HOME » Publications » Economic Review


Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 1-22 (2014)

“Adopted Children and Stepchildren in Twentieth-Century America: Evidence from U.S. Federal Census Microdata”
Chiaki Moriguchi (Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)

In the U.S., a substantial number of children live with step-parents or adoptive parents. Empirical research has found strong correlations between family structure and child outcomes in modern data, indicating that family structure matters for the welfare of children. Although children's living arrangements varied widely also in historical times, we know little about how non-biological children fared in the past. In this study, I use federal census microdata (IPUMS) in 1880-1930 and 2000 to compare socioeconomic conditions and educational outcomes of adopted, step, and biological children in the U.S. I find that, compared to modern times, adopted children and stepchildren had much greater educational disadvantages in the early twentieth century.