Temporary Stays and Persistent Gains: The Causal Effects of Foster Care

Temporary Stays and Persistent Gains: The Causal Effects of Foster Care

Published: Mar 24, 2021
Publisher: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (online ahead of print)
Download
Authors

Max Gross

E. Jason Baron

Six percent of children in the United States enter foster care by age 18. We estimate the effects of foster care on children’s outcomes by exploiting the quasi-random assignment of child welfare investigators in Michigan. We find that foster care improved children’s safety and educational outcomes. Gains emerged after children exited the foster system when most were reunified with their birth parents, suggesting that improvements made by their parents were an important mechanism. These results indicate that safely reducing the use of foster care, a goal of recent federal legislation, requires more effective in-home, prevention-focused efforts.

Follow the Evidence

Interested in the most current findings from Mathematica? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter, Evidence & Insights, to stay up to date with the issues that matter to you.

Sign Me Up