Jobs, Earnings Affected for Mothers of Children With Autism

Mothers of children with ASD earn significantly less than mothers of those with no health problems

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are more likely to be unemployed, work fewer hours per week, and earn significantly less than mothers of children with no health limitations, according to a study published online March 19 in Pediatrics.

In an effort to examine labor market outcomes for parents of children with ASD compared to parents of children with different or no health limitations, Zuleyha Cidav, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues evaluated data from the 2002 to 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. They employed a logit model to estimate parental labor force participation and a tobit model to estimate parental hours of work and earnings.

The researchers found that, on average, mothers of children with ASD earned 35 percent ($7,189) less than the mothers of children with another health limitation and 56 percent ($14,755) less than the mothers of children with no health limitations. They were 6 percent less likely to be employed and worked seven hours less per week, on average, than mothers of children with no health limitation. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups in labor market outcomes for fathers. On average, children with ASD were 9 percent less likely to have parents who were both working. Family earnings of children with ASD were 21 percent ($10,416) less than those of children with another health limitation and 28 percent ($17,763) less than those of children with no health limitations. Weekly hours of work per family were an average of five hours less than those of children with no health limitations.

"Families of children with ASD face significant economic burden," the authors conclude. "This suggests the need for additional evaluation of available supports for families and specific barriers to optimizing family income."

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