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The IUP Journal of Applied Economics
The Baby Shortage in Italy: An Empirical Investigation on Inter-Country Adoptions
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Adoption is a choice that affects individuals in various ways; but regardless of its enormous social relevance, socioeconomic literature has devoted little attention to this phenomenon in Italy, the first-ranked country in the world for inter-country adoptions relative to its population following the ratification of The Hague Convention. Inter-country adoption can increase the number of children in the population, but in Italy, it is a long and expensive procedure for a family, and its costs are opaque. This paper describes Italy’s adoption system by highlighting the role of accredited bodies and reporting government statistics as well as data from the very first survey on Italian inter-country adoptions. The demand for adoptive children is empirically investigated as the relation between parental satisfaction and the characteristics of both the procedure itself and those of the adoptive children. The findings show that adoptive parents’ satisfaction is inversely correlated with the child’s age, the duration of the adoption procedure and the size of the accredited body.

 
 
 

Adoption is a choice that affects individuals on many levels; but regardless of its enormous social relevance, socioeconomic literature has devoted minimal attention to this phenomenon in Italy, the highest-ranking country in the world for inter-country adoptions relative to its population in recent decades. The social cost of childcare has been investigated from many viewpoints and the benefits of childcare are felt throughout Italian society. Italy has the lowest fertility rate among OECD nations (1.37 in 2014), but inter-country adoption can contribute to increase the number of children in the population. While there have been many studies on the policies to increase the fertility rate in Italy (e.g., welfare and labor policies), no literature has addressed the role of inter-country adoption. This paper describes the adoption system by focusing on the cost of adoptions, considering the role of accredited bodies and reporting both government statistics and data from the very first survey on Italian inter-country adoptions. Inter-country adoption is a voluntary parental choice, but it underlines the structural differences in a world characterized by inequality and it involves delicate ethical and human rights issues. In Italy adoption is not an inherent legal right, it is rather an act undertaken in the best interest of the child. The methodological limits of official statistics on inter-country adoptions (Selman, 2009 and 2012) regard Italian data as well, but at present there is no other reliable source of data to consult. In 2011 Italy undertook 6.7 adoptions for every 100,000 people, falling slightly to 5.2 in 2012; the corresponding figures for the US, (the highest-ranking receiving country in absolute terms) were 2.9 and 2.7 respectively. Between 2002 and 2013, 37,680 children entered Italy (Table 1). This positive trend ended in 2011, likely as an effect of shrinking supply [as explained by Selman (2012) and (2016)] resulting from improved regulation and services for families and children in sending countries, but also as the result of reduced demand, due to economic crisis and uncertainty in Italy. The demand for children largely exceeds the supply; in fact, during the 2007-2011 period, 21,000 couples applied for adoptions with an accredited body, and only 56% of them succeeded.

 
 
 

Applied Economics Jouranl,Enormous social relevance, Children in the population, Its costs are opaque, Italian inter-country adoptions.