Georgia Policy Labs Reports

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Alexa Prettyman

David C. Ribar



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Child maltreatment is a prevalent and costly problem. Millions of children worldwide experience some form of parental maltreatment, and it has lasting consequences, costing society trillions of dollars. This report from Alexa Prettyman and David C. Ribar examines child maltreatment through an economic lens, building on theoretical approaches for conceptualizing how different types of maltreatment occur. In addition, this report describes available data sources, spotlighting the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States. Finally, the report reviews the incidence of child maltreatment and the evidence on risk factors, consequences, and promising interventions. Risk factors can be categorized into six groups: parent or caregiver factors, child factors, family factors, community or environmental factors, factors for recurrence, and co-occurring factors. Parent or caregiver factors and family factors seem to be the strongest predictors of child maltreatment. Economists should care about child maltreatment because the consequences, such as poor health and delinquency, contribute to inequality and reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of other social investments. In general, more evidence is needed to better understand the causal mechanisms of the different types of maltreatment and to implement more effective policies.


Child Abuse & Neglect: Developing an Economic Understanding