Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption

60 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2010

See all articles by Mariagiovanna Baccara

Mariagiovanna Baccara

Washington University in St. Louis

Allan Collard-Wexler

Duke University

Leonardo Felli

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Leeat Yariv

Princeton University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

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, Matching, Racial Bias, Search

JEL Classification: C78, J13, J15, J16

Suggested Citation

Baccara, Mariagiovanna and Collard-Wexler, Allan and Felli, Leonardo and Yariv, Leeat, Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption (January 2010). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7647, Available at SSRN:

Mariagiovanna Baccara (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

Allan Collard-Wexler

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Leonardo Felli

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom
+44 1223 335221 (Phone)


CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Leeat Yariv

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics