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IMFAR: Families With Autistic Children Have Lower Earnings

Last Updated: May 12, 2011.

Earnings of families that include children with autism spectrum disorder appear to be lower than earnings of families that include children with functional limitations or healthy children, according to research presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, held from May 12 to 14 in San Diego.

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Earnings of families that include children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to be lower than earnings of families that include children with functional limitations or healthy children, according to research presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, held from May 12 to 14 in San Diego.

Zuleyha Cidav, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues estimated the effect of caring for a child with autism on parents' labor force participation and hours of market work, and assessed how this effect varied as a function of a child's individual and family characteristics and community factors. They used the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey between 2002 to 2007.

The investigators found that mothers of children with ASD were 5 percent less likely to be employed than the mothers of children with functional limitations and 12 percent less likely to be employed than the mothers of healthy children. The investigators also found that mothers of children with ASD earned 26 percent less than the mothers of children with functional limitations and 39 percent less than the mothers of healthy children. However, the investigators did not find any significant differences in employment rates and annual earnings among fathers of children with ASD and fathers of children with functional limitations or healthy children.

"Our preliminary results suggest a negative effect of childhood autism on parental employment," the authors write.

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