Monday, May 9, 2011

China Adoption: Discrepancies in Statistics

Pound Pup Legacy posts about a discrepancy of 1, 618 children between what China reports as having sent abroad for adoption and what receiving countries report:
The finding of this comparison is very similar to the one we made in 2007. Again there are big differences between the figures provided by the authorities of the sending country, and the figures provided by the authorities of receiving countries.

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Over the period 2005-2009, almost 7.5% more children were reportedly adopted from China, than China claims to have sent for adoption.

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Is it too much to ask of the authorities in sending and receiving countries to properly count the children adopted internationally? With all the bureaucracy involved in inter-country adoption, how is it possible that 1618 children are unaccounted for?
So, any thoughts on what might account for the discrepancy?


Niels Hoogeveen said...

I really appreciate you picked up our post about the discrepancies in inter-country adoption statistics related to China, but can you please spell the name of our website correctly?

Kind regards,
Niels Hoogeveen

kantmakm said...

U.S. yearly numbers are based on fiscal year ending in September. If China's reported numbers are based on a calendar year, then there's your answer. Not so nefarious after all.

Niels Hoogeveen said...

Dear kantmakm,

Your observation was made in our article too:

Small difference are to be expected. For example, the USA reports adoptions per fiscal year (October 1 to September 30), while China reports per calendar year. Likewise, Australia reports over the period 1 July to 31 June. Such differences should more or less cancel out when looking at the entire time frame of five years, but this is not what we see.

If the differences would be explained by difference in reporting years, we'd see smaller discrepancies in countries that report per calendar year, just as China does. This is not the case.

kantmakm said...

The larger discrepancies in 2007/2008 can be largely attributed to the bigger differences between number of LIDs referred at the beginning vs. end of those years.

Number of days referred from china for the last 3 months of calendar year 2008 = 13

Number of days referred from china for the first 3 months of calendar year 2008 = 21

Number of days referred from china for the last 3 months of calendar year 2007 = 19

Number of days referred from china for the first 3 months of calendar year 2007 = 46

There is more consistency among the other years between the amount of LIDs matched during the first and last 3 months, for example:

Number of days referred from china for the last 3 months of calendar year 2006 = 48

Number of days referred from china for the first 3 months of calendar year 2006 = 41

Niels Hoogeveen said...


If that explained the differences, then we would see compensation in subsequent years, which is not the case.

Over a 5 year time frame, differences between reporting years would more or less cancel out, which doesn't happen.

Over the entire five year period there is a difference of 1409 children, which is so far unexplained.

Similar differences exist between China and other countries, though lesser in absolute numbers.

Similar and worse discrepancies exist when looking at the adoption statistics of sending countries other than China.

We just finished a similar comparison with regards to Cambodia (published later this week), which shows even larger relative differences (smaller in absolute numbers of course).

kantmakm said...

I am aware that the numbers produced by the US State department reflect the numbers of IR/IH 3/4 immigrant visas issued. Do you know exactly what the Chinese numbers are supposed to reflect - clearly they would not reflect number of US visas issued. I would assume they would reflect the number of completed foreign adoptions.

There are also other factors to consider including in-country disruptions and adoptions by expats, adoption by Chinese nationals with permanent residency in the US, etc. that could affect the numbers being reported on either end.

I wonder which part of Chinese government is responsible for reporting the figures to Hague? The reporting form looks to have been filled out a bit haphazardly - not specifying orphanage vs. foster family and not reporting #'s for domestic adoption for example.

This is a bit surprising, since the Chinese are generally pretty immaculate record keepers.

Were you able to find a source other than the Hague filing to cross-check?

Niels Hoogeveen said...

One of the problems we have identified in out comparison four years ago, us that there is not an official definition of what the count should actually reflect.

This makes comparison really difficult.

Ideally, the procedures of the Hague Convention should make it possible that country A says they sent X children for adoption to country B in year N, and that country B can confirm it received X children from country A in year N.

Given the fact adoption is already a process with lots of checks and balances (at least in theory and by law), these statistics should actually match perfectly.

We have not been able to find a second source for those figures. I would wonder if it would make any difference, though, since these figures were provided to the Hague Conference by the Chinese Central Authority, which is also responsible for the actual book keeping.