ADHD Costs Adults $77 Billion in Lost Income
Adult ADHD Affects Income and Educational Achievement in U.S.
WebMD News Archive
Putting a Price Tag on Adult ADHD continued...
The study showed that adults with ADHD were less likely to have a full-time
job (34% vs. 57%) and had a job turnover rate that was twice as high over the
last 10 years compared with those without ADHD.
Biederman estimates that ADHD's effect on the ability to hold down a
full-time job indirectly accounts for about 17% of the projected $77 billion in
annual household income losses due to the disorder.
Researchers also found that adults with ADHD were less likely to finish high
school or get a college or graduate degree. But the study showed that even when
adults with ADHD had attained the same educational levels as others, they still
had lower incomes.
"When you look at the average income by education level, we found that
even if you have a graduate degree there was a big difference in what you bring
home at the end of the day," says Biederman.
In addition, the study showed that ADHD had a major effect in many other
aspects of the participants' lives. Compared with adults who don't have ADHD,
those with ADHD:
- Had higher divorce rates
- Were more likely abuse alcohol or drugs
- Were less likely to have a positive self-image or be optimistic
- Reported lower levels of satisfaction with all aspects of their lives
Early Treatment May Prevent Economic Loss
Although as many as 8 million adults in the U.S. have the symptoms of ADHD,
studies show that only about 15% of adults with ADHD are aware of their
condition, and only a fraction of those receive treatment.
Experts say early identification and treatment of ADHD in young adults can
help prevent some of the most significant effects the disorder can have on
their educational achievement.
"Seventy-five percent of millionaires in this country have an
undergraduate degree," says David Goodman, MD, assistant professor of
psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who also spoke
at the briefing. "If you don't finish college because of your ADHD and not
being treated, you significantly limit your financial and occupational
"That's why it's critical for these folks to be identified so they can
reach their maximum potential and improve their quality of life," says
While treatment cannot change a person's educational past, researchers say
treatment of ADHD at any age can help adults maintain employment and secure
their financial future.
But they say biggest problems in treating adult ADHD is getting people to
recognize the disorder in themselves.
"In childhood, it's other people who identify the child with ADHD. In
adulthood, who is going to identify the adult who spent the last 20 years in
this mindset and doesn't have a basis of comparison?" says Goodman.
"They don't know that life can be any different. They just figure everybody
is chaotic and forgetful, and they don't come into a physician's office and
say, 'I have a problem.'"