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Keywords:

  • ADHD;
  • labor market outcomes;
  • sibling fixed effects

ABSTRACT

Although 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 attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because 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 article uses a longitudinal national sample, including sibling pairs, to show the important labor market outcome consequences of ADHD. The employment reduction is between 10 and 14 percentage points, the earnings reduction is approximately 33%, and the increase in social assistance is 15 points, figures that are larger than many estimates of the Black people/White people earnings gap and the gender earnings gap. A small share of the link is explained by educational 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 the importance of treating childhood ADHD to foster human capital. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.