Economics of Foster Care (with Joe Doyle, Max Gross, and Brian Jacob). 2022. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 223-246. Link.
Foster care provides substitute living arrangements to protect maltreated children. The practice is remarkably common: it is estimated that 5 percent of children in the United States are placed in foster care at some point during childhood. These children exhibit poor outcomes as children and adults, and economists have begun to estimate the causal relationship between foster care and life outcomes. This paper provides background on the latest trends in foster care policy and practice to highlight areas most in need of rigorous evidence. These trends include efforts to prevent foster care on the demand side and to improve foster home recruitment on the supply side. With increasing data availability and a growing interest in evidence-based practices, there are a range of opportunities for economic research to inform policies that protect vulnerable children.
The Causal Impact of Removing Children from Abusive and Neglectful Homes (with Eric Chyn, Justine Hastings, and Margarita Machelett). 2022. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 130, no. 7, pp. 1919-1962. Link.
This paper measures impacts of removing children from families investigated for abuse or neglect. We use removal tendencies of child protection investigators as an instrument. We focus on young children investigated before age 6 and find that removal significantly increases test scores and reduces grade repetition for girls. There are no detectable impacts for boys. This pattern of results does not appear to be driven by heterogeneity in pre-removal characteristics, foster placements, or the type of schools attended after removal. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that development of abused and neglected girls is more responsive to home removal.