Monday, June 25, 2012

Children in out-of-home care and adult criminality

It always saddens me when children are born into bad families. In extreme cases, society's responses is to put them into foster care or into institutions, in the hope that they will have a better shot at good adult outcomes. While there are some prominent counter-examples, the norm is that they still face significant hurdles. One measure of this is how frequently they end up being convicted of a crime.

Matthew Lindquist and Torsten Santavirta look at Sweden and children sent to foster or residential care. The latter seems seems to increase the likelihood of criminality in later years, as does placing boys in foster care after 13. Girls seems largely unaffected by this, except for residential care. Of course, this could all be selection bias, as the worst cases cannot be put in foster care. But in this study, much of the case record is knwon to the econometrician, in particular whether placement is due to child or parent behavior.

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