Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption
51 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2010
Date Written: January 2010
This paper uses a new data set on domestic child adoption to document the preferences of potential adoptive parents over born and unborn babies relinquished for adoption by their birth mothers. We show that adoptive parents exhibit significant biases in favor of girls and against African-American babies. A non-African-American baby relinquished for adoption attracts the interest of potential adoptive parents with probability 11.5% if it is a girl and 7.9% if it is a boy. As for race, a non-African-American baby has a probability of attracting the interest of an adopting parent at least seven times as high as the corresponding probability for an African-American baby. In addition, we show that a child’s desirability in the adoption process depends significantly on time to birth (increasing over the pregnancy, but decreasing after birth) and on adoption costs. We also document the attitudes toward babies’ characteristics across different categories of adoptive parents – heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as single women and foreign couples. Finally, we consider several recently discussed policies excluding same-sex and foreign couples from the adoption process. In our data, such policies would reduce the number of adopted babies by 6% and 33%, respectively.
Keywords: child adoption, gender bias, racial bias, search, matching
JEL Classification: J13, J15, J16, C78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation