Economics Colloquium

Mark Montgomery and Irene “Tinker” Powell will be on campus this week to deliver the next Economics Colloquium address, “Baby Markets: Thinking the Unthinkable in International Adoption.” The talk is Thursday at 4:30 in Steitz 102.  This is quite a topic, where the rules of the game have pretty significant distributional consequences, and it will be interesting to see how this sorts out.

Montgomery and Powell are professors at Grinnell College, and are well known for lighter work, including “Should Economists Marry Economists?” and their economics murder mystery, Theoretically Dead.*


Baby Markets: Thinking the Unthinkable in International Adoption

Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell

Grinnell College

Adoption laws, national and international, outlaw payments to families for relinquishing their children. This does not stop “baby selling,” but rather moves it into the hands of criminals. History suggests that restricting mutually beneficial exchanges can make worse the problems it is supposed to solve. Is it time to think the unthinkable in international adoption?

The talk examines how current adoption laws create incentives for fraud and other forms of abuse, identifies “moral hazards” abuse created by the legal structure of adoption, and explores how relaxing restrictions on compensating birth mothers would change incentives and behavior of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption facilitators.



*As far as I know, they are both economics professors, though the Publisher’s blurb says one is a philosophy professor.  I suppose teaching labor economics long enough can turn anyone somewhat philosophical.