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Early Literature On Institutionalization, Later Deprivation Studies, Intellectual Development, Behavior Problems, Social-emotional Development

Researchers and social policy makers have long been interested in the developmental impact of institutionalization. Are young children who have experienced extreme deprivation in the first year or two of their lives ever able to overcome such poor developmental beginnings? Children in orphanages have been studied in many parts of the world (e.g., Iran, Lebanon, United States, Greece, Romania, Russia, and Canada). The early work on institutionalization demonstrated that deprivation resulted in developmental insult but made no attempt to establish what it was about deprivation that caused such deficits. Intellectual assessments were often used as outcome measures and social emotional variables were used to explain these outcomes. In the late twentieth century, researchers examined larger samples of orphanage children using standardized developmental assessments and measures of all aspects of development (i.e., physical, intellectual, behavioral, and social-emotional). This entry presents a review of both the early literature and late-twentieth-century research on institutionalized children. In most studies children with orphanage experience are compared to children reared in foster care, adopted children, or children who were home-reared from birth. Typically orphanage children fare less well on most measures than children in these other groups.

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