Human Nature

, 22:350 | Cite as

Has the Child Welfare Profession Discovered Nepotistic Biases?

  • Martin DalyEmail author
  • Gretchen Perry


A major trend in foster care in developed countries over the past quarter century has been a shift toward placing children with “kin” rather than with unrelated foster parents. This change in practice is widely backed by legislation and is routinely justified as being in the best interests of the child. It is tempting to interpret this change as indicating that the child welfare profession has belatedly discovered that human social sentiments are nepotistic in their design, such that kin tend to be the most nurturant alloparents. Arguably, however, the change in practice has been driven by demographic, economic, and political forces rather than by discovery of its benefits. More and better research is needed before we can be sure that children have actually benefitted.


Child welfare Foster care Kinship care Nepotism 



This paper has benefitted from critical comments provided by Adam Sparks and four anonymous referees.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and BehaviorMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of WaterlooKitchenerCanada

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