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The Effects of Childhood ADHD on Adult Labor Market Outcomes

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  • Jason Fletcher

Abstract

While several types of mental illness, including substance abuse disorders, have been linked with poor labor market outcomes, no current research has been able to examine the effects of childhood ADHD. As ADHD has become one of the most prevalent childhood mental conditions, it is useful to understand the full set of consequences of the illness. This paper uses a longitudinal national sample, including sibling pairs, to show important labor market outcome consequences of ADHD. The employment reduction is between 10-14 percentage points, the earnings reduction is approximately 33%, and the increase in social assistance is 15 points, which are larger than many estimates of the black-white earnings gap and the gender earnings gap. A small share of the link is explained by education attainments and co-morbid health conditions and behaviors. The results also show important differences in labor market consequences by family background and age of onset. These findings, along with similar research showing that ADHD is linked with poor education outcomes and adult crime, suggest that treating childhood ADHD can substantially increase the acquisition of human capital.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18689.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18689

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  1. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 1997. "Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 334-353.
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