Estimating the "impact" of out-of-home placement on child well-being: approaching the problem of selection bias

Child Dev. Nov-Dec 2009;80(6):1856-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01372.x.


This study used data on 2,453 children aged 4-17 from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being and 5 analytic methods that adjust for selection factors to estimate the impact of out-of-home placement on children's cognitive skills and behavior problems. Methods included ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions and residualized change, simple change, difference-in-difference, and fixed effects models. Models were estimated using the full sample and a matched sample generated by propensity scoring. Although results from the unmatched OLS and residualized change models suggested that out-of-home placement is associated with increased child behavior problems, estimates from models that more rigorously adjust for selection bias indicated that placement has little effect on children's cognitive skills or behavior problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Institutionalization*
  • Intelligence
  • Internal-External Control
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Problem Solving
  • Selection Bias
  • Social Environment*
  • Vocabulary