Petra Gram Cavalca defends her PhD thesis


Petra Gram Cavalca

Title: "Essays in Economics of Child Protection"

Time and place: 20 September 2021 at 15:00 in CSS 26.2.21.

To attend the PhD defense, please use this link:

An electronic copy of the thesis can be obtained here:

Assessment Committee

Associate Professor Meltem Daysal, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (chairman)
Professor Dan Anderberg, Royal Holloway University, UK
Professor Anna Aiser, Brown University, US

In this thesis, I study various aspects of child protection from an economic perspective. The thesis consists of three self-contained chapters. Each chapter casts light on a different aspect of how we, as a society, manage the responsibility of helping children who do not thrive in their own home, and to what extent we succeed in helping these children find their way in life.

In chapter 1 (co-authored with Mette Ejrnæs and Mette Gørtz), we investigate how children's health, education, and crime changes in the time leading up to, and immediately following a placement in out-of-home care. Using detailed administrative register data, supplemented by unique survey data from a large Danish municipality, we investigate the development of the children's well-being in the time around their first out-of-home care experience.

In chapter 2, I investigate a specific part of the child protection system; foster family care. Unfortunately, many child protection systems have a hard time recruiting enough foster families. At the same time, there is a wish to place a larger fraction of children in foster families rather than institutional care, which increases the demand for qualified foster parents. An important question is how to ensure a sufficient supply of qualified foster families in the future?

In chapter 3 (co-authored with Mette Ejrnæs and Mette Gørtz), we study the role of budgetary constraints on child protection decisions. More specifically, we investigate whether municipalities that have spent a larger share of their budget, place fewer children in out-of-home care in comparison to municipalities that did not spend as large a share of their yearly budget. We also analyze the effect of a budget reform, which introduced economic sanctions for municipalities overrunning their budgets.