The Effect of Medical Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on Foster Care Caseloads: Evidence from Danish Registry Data

Peter Fallesen, University of Copenhagen
Christopher Wildeman, Yale University

Since the early 2000s, foster care caseloads have decreased in several industrialized nations, yet the causes of this decline remain, for the most part, a mystery. This paper uses administrative data from one of the countries that experienced a substantial decrease in admissions to foster care over this period, Denmark, to show that increasing medical treatment of ADHD accounts for a substantial part of the decrease in Danish foster care caseloads. Indeed, according to our estimates, the decline in caseloads would have been 45% smaller absent increases in the medical treatment of ADHD. Thus, while a host of factors such as parental behaviors and characteristics, welfare generosity, and the female imprisonment rate all shape foster care caseloads, future research should be more attentive to the ways in which medical treatment and other interventions aimed at addressing children’s acute behavioral problems could also have affect foster care caseloads.

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Presented in Session 180: Incarcerated, Foster Care, and Juvenile Justice Youth: Development and Outcomes