Date on Honors Thesis






Examining Committee Member

Dr. Simone Silva, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Eran Guse, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Beau Sauley, Committee Member


Few studies have been conducted on the presence of a direct connection between per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and the percentage of children in foster care in a given region. GDP is a known indicator of economic growth (Powers, 1995; Roshaniza & Selvaratnam, 2015), as is a child’s potential for foster care placement associated with a parent or family’s financial status (Bald et. al, 2022; Barth et. al, 2010). Poverty is the bridge in many of these scenarios – low GDP can be indicative of higher poverty rates, and financial hardship under poverty classification can lead to child maltreatment (McGuinness & Schneider, 2007). Within this analysis, Watt’s (1969) article “An Economic Definition of Poverty'' helped create a baseline classification scale for wealth and poverty, allowing for a sociological interpretation of future regression results. This was important when considering how omitted, unmeasurable cultural differences may affect child maltreatment in addition to GDP. Per capita GDP was then regressed against the percentage of children in care on the state, county, and single state level along with other relevant covariates. Three robust regressions were run for each, and the results of all were compared to one another and discussed. Regression results indicated a consistently negative relationship between per capita GDP and the percentage of children in care, even when poverty levels are controlled for within the regressions, though results were not statistically significant at every geographic level. This may indicate that there are omitted and possibly unexplored links between GDP and foster care other than poverty, an interesting question for further research.