Thanks for your question. First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research please
dont hesitate to ask me for a clarification.
You requested a statistic concerning the number of orphans in
orphanages worldwide. Of course, any such number would be an estimate
as no one has ever taken a census of worldwide orphanages.
As a start, UNICEF issued the following report Appendix I includes
tables that detail the number of orphans in Africa, Asia and Latin
America in 1990, 1995 and 2001, as well as year 2010 estimates
The total number of orphans worldwide is projected to reach 44 million
An article from October 10 2002 in the Weekly (Google cache) provides
the following statistics
The statistics may surprise you: Adoption is a $6.3 billion industry
that is unregulated. Since 1971, United States citizens have adopted
more than 265,000 children internationally. In 2001 alone, more than
19,000 children from other countries were adopted by U.S. citizens.
Orphanages are full in most countries, yet the welfare of these
orphaned and abandoned children is not the top priority in the current
system of adoption. The number of orphans worldwide is estimated at
more than 13 million.
In the US, according to Current Events -
Old-time orphanages--large buildings housing large numbers of
orphans--mostly disappeared in this country by the 1940s. They have
been replaced by modem facilities known as "group homes" or "group
residential programs." Today about 30,000 children--a small fraction
of the more than 500,000 kids living apart from their natural
parents--live in group homes or group residential programs scattered
across the country.
(see citations for articles below)
And, according to McLaughlin writing in USA Today -
the percentage of kids in institutions dropped from 57.8% in 1933 to
31% in 1962 and 17.1% in 1989
(this is, of course, the percentage of kids not living with their
In Russia, however, about 25% of children left without parental care
are estimated to be living in institutions
Official,stock-type information from
Russia shows that the number of children
left without parental care rose from
421,000 to 533,000 between 1989 and
1995 and to 637,000 by 1999. These fig-
ures suggest a huge 1.5-fold increase over
the last 10 years. In each year, about a
quarter of these children were living in
This statistic is from a report you can find at
A report from the World Bank provides some statistics for the percent
of children in orphanages in 3rd world countries
Rwanda 5,000 of 400,000 orphans living in orphanages
Uganda 1,300 of 1,700,000
This is because the cost to run an orphanage in the third world is an
order of magnitude or two higher than the foster care option -
Cost comparisons conducted in
Uganda show the ratio of operating costs for an
orphanage to be 14 times higher than those for com-munity
care. A 1992 study by the World Bank found
that institutional care at one facility in Tanzania cost
$1,000 per year per child, a figure six times more
expensive than the average cost of foster care in that
country. Other studies have found a ratio of 1:20, or
even up to 1:100.
The only indication I was able to locate of an exact numerical
estimate for the number of children in orphanages worldwide is the
Throughout the world, an unknown number of children, most likely in
the millions, were kept in orphanages and other non-penal institutions
This is from
Estimating the number of orphans in orphanages worldwide
The information I have collected provides us with two very different
estimates for the number of orphans worldwide. UNICEF estimates the
number of orphans at approximately 210 million. On the other hand,
the Weekly estimates approx. 13 million. As a compromise, lets
proceed with an estimate of 100 million orphans worldwide.
Next, we have seen that the percentage of such children who are in
orphanages varies greatly from 25% in Russia, to about 17% in the US
to as little as a fraction of a percent in Uganda. Since a weighted
average approach would yield something that is much closer to third
world standards (because the vast majority of orphans are found in the
third world), we can safely assume the percentage we are seeking is in
the low single digits.
This means that there are anywhere from two to five million orphans in
orphanages worldwide, an estimate that is inline with the HRW world
I hope this response adequately addresses your request. Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this
Current Events, a Weekly Reader publication, Jan 23, 1995 v94 n15
p2A(4) The orphanage: is it time to bring it back?
USA Today (Magazine), Nov 1995 v124 n2606 p61(3)
Orphanages are not the solution. Megan E. McLaughlin.
"number of children in orphanages" world
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"number of children in orphanages globally"
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