Out-of-home care in childhood and socio-economic functioning in adulthood: ONS Longitudinal Study 1971-2011

Sacker, A., Lacey, R. E., Maughan, B., & Murray, E. T. (2021) SocArXiv, [ONS LS]

Other information:

Background: Children who spent time in non-parental care report poor outcomes in many aspects of their later lives on average, but less is known about differences by type of care. We examined whether socioeconomic, family, and living arrangements of adults who had been in non-parental care across the first three decades of adult life varied by type of care (residential, non-relative and relative).
Methods: We used longitudinal data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study (LS). Participants were aged<18 years and had never been married at baseline of each census year from 1971-2001 (n=242,843). Separately for each adult follow-up age (20 to 29; 30 to 39; 40 to 49), multi-level logistic regression models were used to compare socioeconomic, family, and living arrangements by different out-of-home care (OHC) experiences.
Results: Any OHC increased the likelihood of poorer functioning in the three domains of socioeconomic circumstances, family formation and relationships, and living arrangements. This was evident in their 20s, 30s and 40s; the most adverse outcomes were observed for those with a history of residential care, followed by non-relative OHC, and the least adverse outcomes for relative OHC. Moderation by childhood census year, age in OHC, and gender altered the relationship between OHC and some, but not all, adult outcomes. The strongest, most consistent, evidence was for widening of inequalities in age 20-29 outcomes across childhood census years and weakest evidence for any moderation of age 40-49 outcomes by age when in OHC.
Conclusion: Enduring inequalities in social and economic functioning for OHC-experienced adults were found. The evidence overwhelmingly supports the policy to place children in relative care whenever possible, with residential care the least favoured option.

Available online: SocArXiv,
Output from project: 1008925


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