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Child Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care
Joseph J. DoyleJr.
American Economic Review. Dec 2007, Vol. 97, No. 5: Pages 1583-1610

Child Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care

Joseph J. DoyleJr.1

1Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142.

Abstract

Little is known about the effects of placing children who are abused or neglected into foster care. This paper uses the placement tendency of child protection investigators as an instrumental variable to identify causal effects of foster care on long-term outcomes—including juvenile delinquency, teen motherhood, and employment—among children in Illinois where a rotational assignment process effectively randomizes families to investigators. Large marginal treatment effect estimates suggest caution in the interpretation, but the results suggest that children on the margin of placement tend to have better outcomes when they remain at home, especially older children. (JEL H75, I38, J13)