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DPP Research Seminar: "Born in the U.S.A": The American opioid epidemic and child outcomes

Anand Murugesan
Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

The US has experienced a four-fold increase in death rates from opioid drugs since 2000, with over 500,000 dead, rivaling even the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine the increased supply of opioids on child outcomes: child abandonment, entry into foster care, health, and behavioral attributes. We use data from 1995 - 2019 to identify the effect of opioids by leveraging Oxycontin's (a legal drug) introduction and marketing in the US states, which varied depending on state policies. Preliminary estimates suggest significant increases in child entry to foster care and reductions in child outcomes in the states worst hit by the opioid epidemic. In a second paper, we find that the likelihood that a child in foster care is adopted may depend upon alternatives available to parents.  Building on a simple model of adoption markets, we use a child-level panel from 1998-2017 to estimate the causal effect of international adoptions and assisted reproductive technologies on adoption probabilities for foster children.  We find that international adoptions have significant negative effects on foster adoptions, while estimated effects of ART births are small.