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Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 342-357 (2010)

“Child Adoption in Japan, 1948-2008―A Comparative Historical Analysis―”
Chiaki Moriguchi (Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)

Adopting children, as an alternative to childbearing, is a widely accepted means of forming a family in the U.S., but is relatively rare in Japan. Why is child adoption uncommon in Japan and yet widespread in the U.S.? By compiling historical statistics from government records, I first document trends in child adoption in post-WWII Japan. The findings indicate that child adoption rates in Japan and the U.S. were comparable in the early 1950s, but that the rate in Japan declined continuously over the ensuing five decades. To investigate the reasons for this persistent decline, I explore the demand-side factors and examine parental motivations for child adoption.