Proposal preview

For Children or the Family? Comparative Historical Perspectives on Adoption and Family Formation in Eurasia

Adoption, in its modern form, is a legal institution that creates a parent-child relationship between two individuals regardless of blood relations. As such, it is an important means both for a family who lacks biological offspring to continue its lineage and for a child who lacks adequate parental care to acquire a new and permanent home. Adoption is a widely accepted method of family formation in many contemporary societies, yet the institution of adoption differs substantially across societies as well as across time within the same society. The purpose of this session is to understand the reasons for such institutional diversity and explore its welfare implications by conducting comparative historical studies of adoption practices in East Asia and Western Europe.

In East Asia, adoption has played a vital role in ensuring family continuation since at least the early modern period. However, while the adoption of adults (especially of sons-in-law) became a dominant practice in Japan, the adoption of prospective daughters-in-law at a young age was common in Taiwan, and the primary form of adoption in Korea was the adoption of patrilineal male children. By contrast, in Western Europe, although adoption was common in Roman times, it largely disappeared in medieval times and was non-existent in the early modern period. France was the first country to reintroduce adoption in the early 19th century, allowing adult adoption for the purpose of family inheritance, but child adoption was not permitted in Western Europe well into the 20th century. It was the U.S. who pioneered in promoting the adoption in the best interests of the child in the late 19th century, and with the experience of two world wars (which produced a large number of orphans and abandoned children) the adoption of children in need of care became a major form of adoption in most western societies. In East Asia, as the primary beneficiary of adoption continued to be a family (rather than a child in need of care) well into the post-WWII period, adoption has played a limited role in child welfare policies, resulting in a high proportion of children cared in institutions or adopted internationally by families in western societies.

Even though the institution of adoption has important implications for the welfare of children, as preceding research has focused mostly on the legal and cultural history of adoption, quantitative empirical studies are exceedingly rare. In this session, taking advantage of both historical national statistics and individual-level microdata (such as population registries and genealogies), we compare the evolution of child and adult adoption in Asia and Europe, explore economic and non-economic rationales for the diverse practices, and investigate their long-run implications.

Papers:
1. Satomi Kurosu (Reitaku University) and Hao Dong (Princeton University) “Adoption as a Family Continuity Strategy in Early Modern Japan, 1700-1870”
2. Sangwoo Han (Sungkyunkwan University) and Byunggiu Son (Sungkyunkwan University) “Dividing Property and Sharing Sons: A Socio-economic Family Strategy in the 18-20th Century Korea”
3. Xingchen Lin (TamKang University) and Yau-hsuan Kao (National Chiao Tung University) “Fate, Custom or Economy: The Mortality Difference between Adopted Daughters and Adopted Daughters-in-law in Taiwan, 1905-1944”
4. Wen Shan Yang (Academia Sinica) and Chun Hao Li (Yuan Ze University) “Giveaway Daughter and Mother’s Attachment: A Test of Hrdy’s Mother Nature
Hypothesis in Colonial Taiwan”
5. Jean-François Mignot (French National Centre for Scientific Research) “Child Adoption in Western Europe, 1900-2015”
6. Chiaki Moriguchi (Hitotsubashi University) “From Pragmatic to Sentimental Adoption: The Evolution of Child Adoption in the United States, 1900-2000” and “Child Adoption and Child Welfare Policies in Japan and Korea, 1950-2015”

Organizer(s)

  • Chiaki Moriguchi Hitotsubashi University chiaki@ier.hit-u.ac.jp Japan
  • Jean-François Mignot French National Centre for Scientific Research jeffmignot@yahoo.fr France
  • Satomi Kurosu Reitaku University skurosu@reitaku-u.ac.jp Japan

Session members

  • Xingchen Lin, TamKang University
  • Satomi Kurosu, Reitaku University
  • Hao Dong, Princeton University
  • Sangwoo Han, Sungkyunkwan University
  • Byunggiu Son, Sungkyunkwan University
  • Chiaki Moriguchi, Hitotsubashi University
  • Eunhwa Kang, Saitama Prefectural University
  • Jean-François Mignot, French National Centre for Scientific Research

Discussant(s)

  • George Alter University of Michigan altergc@umich.edu
  • Marcia Yonemoto University of Colorado Boulder yonemoto@colorado.edu
  • Peter Lindert University of California, Davis phlindert@ucdavis.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

adoption practices differ substantially across societies as well as across time within the society. In East Asia, adoption has played a vital role in ensuring family continuation since at least the early modern period with notable geographical variations. By contrast, in Western Europe, adoption had largely disappeared by the early modern period; however, following the U.S. who pioneered in instituting modern adoption laws, adoption was reintroduced in the 20th century primarily as an institution to care for orphaned or abandoned children. In this session, we compare the historical evolution of adoption practices in East Asia, Western Europe, and the United States and explore the reasons for the observed institutional variations and their welfare implications.

1st half

Adoption in Early Modern Japan: Evidence from Population Registration Microdata, 1708-1870

Satomi Kurosu, Hao Dong

Adoption mediates demographic constraints and family continuity. In early modern Japan where strong patriarchy and primogeniture prevailed, formal adoption of children, adults, and even in-laws was common among childless families to secure heirs, which has important implications for long-term inequality. Taking advantage of a unique large-scale individual-level panel dataset transcribed from annual local population registers from northeastern Japan in 1708-1870, this study is among the first to provide a systematic understanding of this family process. We not only focus on both the demand and supply sides, but also compare between rural and urban settings as well as across critical historical periods. In addition to describing the characteristics of adoptees and adopter households, we conduct an event-history analysis to examine factors shaping the probability of adoption, especially the influence of household composition and landholding, community economic fluctuation, and exogenous famine shocks.

Adoption mediates demographic constraints and family continuity. In early modern Japan where strong patriarchy and primogeniture prevailed, formal adoption of children, adults, and even in-laws was common among childless families to secure heirs, which has important implications for long-term inequality. Taking advantage of a unique large-scale individual-level panel dataset transcribed from annual local population registers from northeastern Japan in 1708-1870, this study is among the first to provide a systematic understanding of this family process. We not only focus on both the demand and supply sides, but also compare between rural and urban settings as well as across critical historical periods. In addition to describing the characteristics of adoptees and adopter households, we conduct an event-history analysis to examine factors shaping the probability of adoption, especially the influence of household composition and landholding, community economic fluctuation, and exogenous famine shocks.

Sharing Fortune and Sons: Socio-economic Strategy of Family in the 17-19th centuries Korea

Sangwoo Han, Byunggiu Son

Adopting an heir was common among elite families after the 17th century Korea. The elite families adopted a son not for relief, but for family succession. Higher adoption rate was interpreted as a result of the “Confucian Transformation” of Korean society. However, in this study, we point out that the adoption culture and the behavior in the traditional era also should be understood by considering the socio-economic aspect. This study tries to review the patterns of adoption and inheritance of the elite families in the 17th–19th centuries in Korea. The population growth and the culture of inheritance by equal inheritance steadily reduced the size of family assets. We suppose that elite families had tried to solve this problem by sharing their sons by adoption, in this situation. And this strategy would strengthen the solidarity among paternal families and created Korea's unique kinship culture.

Adopting an heir was common among elite families after the 17th century Korea. The elite families adopted a son not for relief, but for family succession. Higher adoption rate was interpreted as a result of the “Confucian Transformation” of Korean society. However, in this study, we point out that the adoption culture and the behavior in the traditional era also should be understood by considering the socio-economic aspect. This study tries to review the patterns of adoption and inheritance of the elite families in the 17th–19th centuries in Korea. The population growth and the culture of inheritance by equal inheritance steadily reduced the size of family assets. We suppose that elite families had tried to solve this problem by sharing their sons by adoption, in this situation. And this strategy would strengthen the solidarity among paternal families and created Korea's unique kinship culture.

From Pragmatic to Sentimental Adoption: The Evolution of Child Adoption in the United States, 1880-1930

Chiaki Moriguchi

Even though the U.S. was a pioneer in promoting adoption of children in need of care since the 1850s, it was not until the 1920s that many married couples began to adopt unrelated infants to rear the child as “their very own.” In this study, I use the U.S. federal census microdata (IPUMS) from 1880 to 1930 to document changes in parental motivations for adoption and their implications for the welfare of adopted children. My empirical analysis shows that farming households were more likely to adopt children for their labor values (i.e., pragmatic adoption) especially in the earlier decades, whereas households with higher socio-economic status were more likely to adopt children for thier emotional values (i.e., sentimental adoption). Furthermore, adopted children had significantly lower educational outcomes compared to comparable biological children in 1880-1930, but the extent of educational disadvantages was smaller for children adopted for emotional utility.

Even though the U.S. was a pioneer in promoting adoption of children in need of care since the 1850s, it was not until the 1920s that many married couples began to adopt unrelated infants to rear the child as “their very own.” In this study, I use the U.S. federal census microdata (IPUMS) from 1880 to 1930 to document changes in parental motivations for adoption and their implications for the welfare of adopted children. My empirical analysis shows that farming households were more likely to adopt children for their labor values (i.e., pragmatic adoption) especially in the earlier decades, whereas households with higher socio-economic status were more likely to adopt children for thier emotional values (i.e., sentimental adoption). Furthermore, adopted children had significantly lower educational outcomes compared to comparable biological children in 1880-1930, but the extent of educational disadvantages was smaller for children adopted for emotional utility.

Fate, Custom or Economy: The Study of Little Adopted Daughters-in-law (Sim-pu-a) in Taiwan, 1905-1944

Xingchen (ChiaChi) Lin, LingIn Chuu, Yau-hsuan Kao

In sim-pu-a marriage, a girl is adopted in her early childhood and raised by a family to be married to the family's son. According to many ethnographical studies, sim-pu-a (which literary means “little daughters-in-law”) endured more hardship in their childhood than natal daughters. This paper utilizes the Taiwanese Historical Household Registers Database to compare the child mortality of 3 types of daughters (i.e., natal daughters, adopted daughters and sim-pu-a) in 6 research sites in Taiwan. We find that natal daughters had significantly higher death odds ratio than general adopted daughters, but there was no significant difference between adopted daughters and sim-pu-a.

In sim-pu-a marriage, a girl is adopted in her early childhood and raised by a family to be married to the family's son. According to many ethnographical studies, sim-pu-a (which literary means “little daughters-in-law”) endured more hardship in their childhood than natal daughters. This paper utilizes the Taiwanese Historical Household Registers Database to compare the child mortality of 3 types of daughters (i.e., natal daughters, adopted daughters and sim-pu-a) in 6 research sites in Taiwan. We find that natal daughters had significantly higher death odds ratio than general adopted daughters, but there was no significant difference between adopted daughters and sim-pu-a.

2nd half

Comparative Analysis of Child Adoption in Japan, Korea, and the United States, 1950-2000

Chiaki Moriguchi, Eunhwa Kang

Adoption is a legal institution that creates a parent-child relationship regardless of blood ties and an important means for a child who cannot receive adequate parental care to acquire a new and permanent home. The U.S. was the first country to institute modern adoption laws that protect the child’s best interest and provide an adoptive parent with exclusive parental rights. The number of child adoptions in the U.S. increased sharply over the 20th century, only to be constrained by the number of adoptable infants domestically and later internationally. By contrast, in Japan and Korea, adoption laws evolved mainly to protect the interest of the family in securing its continuity, which delayed the introduction of modern adoption laws. In this paper, we compile comparable historical statistics of child adoption (by adoption types) in the U.S., Japan, and Korea, and investigate the determinants of child adoption as well as their welfare implications.

Adoption is a legal institution that creates a parent-child relationship regardless of blood ties and an important means for a child who cannot receive adequate parental care to acquire a new and permanent home. The U.S. was the first country to institute modern adoption laws that protect the child’s best interest and provide an adoptive parent with exclusive parental rights. The number of child adoptions in the U.S. increased sharply over the 20th century, only to be constrained by the number of adoptable infants domestically and later internationally. By contrast, in Japan and Korea, adoption laws evolved mainly to protect the interest of the family in securing its continuity, which delayed the introduction of modern adoption laws. In this paper, we compile comparable historical statistics of child adoption (by adoption types) in the U.S., Japan, and Korea, and investigate the determinants of child adoption as well as their welfare implications.

Child Adoption in Western Europe, 1900-2015

Jean-François Mignot

This presentation is a first step towards a comparative history of child adoption law and practices in Western Europe since child adoption became legal in Germany (1900), Sweden (1917), France (1923), England-Wales (1927) and Italy (1942). Relying mainly on long time-series data from these five countries, it analyzes the incidence and the developments of domestic adoptions of both unrelated and related children as well as more recent developments in inter-country adoption. It turns out that in most Western European countries child adoption incidence increased from the early 20th century to approximately the 1970s, likely because of rising demand for child adoption. Child adoption incidence has decreased since the 1970s because of a fall in adoptable children from both domestic and foreign backgrounds. In addition, the people of Sweden and England-Wales have long adopted children much more frequently than those of Germany, let alone France and Italy.

This presentation is a first step towards a comparative history of child adoption law and practices in Western Europe since child adoption became legal in Germany (1900), Sweden (1917), France (1923), England-Wales (1927) and Italy (1942). Relying mainly on long time-series data from these five countries, it analyzes the incidence and the developments of domestic adoptions of both unrelated and related children as well as more recent developments in inter-country adoption. It turns out that in most Western European countries child adoption incidence increased from the early 20th century to approximately the 1970s, likely because of rising demand for child adoption. Child adoption incidence has decreased since the 1970s because of a fall in adoptable children from both domestic and foreign backgrounds. In addition, the people of Sweden and England-Wales have long adopted children much more frequently than those of Germany, let alone France and Italy.

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