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Economic Determinants and Consequences of Child Maltreatment

  • Lawrence M. Berger
  • Jane Waldfogel
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    Substantial numbers of children in the advanced industrialized countries experience child abuse and neglect each year, resulting in considerable social, emotional, and economic costs to both the children themselves and to their societies as a whole. Yet, whereas scholars and policymakers have grown increasingly concerned with promoting child well-being, particularly among low income children, limited attention has been paid to child maltreatment. This paper reviews the existing research on the economic determinants and consequences of child abuse and neglect, drawing on theoretical and empirical studies from a wide range of disciplines. We first provide background information about child maltreatment in advanced industrialized countries. Next, we present current theory and empirical evidence regarding links between low income and child maltreatment. We then turn to the evidence on the long-term consequences of maltreatment. Finally, we conclude with a brief discussion of interventions to prevent abuse and neglect. We argue that results from a large number of studies clearly imply that economic resources play an important role in influencing risk for child abuse and (particularly) child neglect, although conclusive causal evidence has thus far been elusive. Furthermore, existing evidence that child abuse and neglect impose tremendous long-term costs both to victims and to society as a whole justifies heightened efforts to reduce child maltreatment. Finally, although a few proven programs exist, the evidence base with regard to effective policies and programs for preventing maltreatment is generally quite weak. Additional rigorous research across the advanced industrialized countries is necessary to promote a better understanding of the economic determinants and consequences of abuse and neglect, as well as the efficacy of policies and programs aimed at preventing child maltreatment and ameliorating its adverse effects.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 111.

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    Date of creation: 05 Apr 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:111-en
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