Socioeconomic Cost of ADHD

Please access CADDAC’s policy paper “Paying Attention to the Cost of ADHD…The Price Paid by Canadian Families, Governments and Society” for complete information on this topic

  The Burden of Illness of ADHD

  • ADHD impedes the acquisition of human and social capital
  • 3-fold increased risk for high school dropout
  • Decreased likelihood of full-time employment, resulting in lower household income
  • 2-fold increased risk of injuries (particularly head injuries/fractures)
  • 2 to 4-fold risk of motor vehicle accidents as a driver
  • Increased risk for substance abuse and other mental health problems (anxiety & depression)
  • Doubles the risk of early death

Summary of Socioeconomic Issues and Costs

ADHD is not the “insignificant” disorder some imagine it to be.

  • The “cost of illness” associated with ADHD across all ages in the US is estimated to be over $74 billion; using conservative Canadian incidence rates estimated Canadian costs are over 7 billion
  • Childhood ADHD reduces adult earnings by 33 per cent
  • Canada loses an estimated $6 billion to $11 billion annually through loss of workplace productivity
  • Workers with ADHD are more likely to enter the workforce as unskilled or semiskilled.

By extrapolating U.S data, untreated ADHD costs the Canadian economy:

  • 12 million days of lost work
  • $600 million dollars in accumulated taxes

Impact on Individual Ministries

Health Care

  • Immediate costs of increased general medical expenses, accidents and emergency room visits
  • Long-term costs of higher rates of mental health illness, substance use and abuse including alcohol and cigarettes, increased driving accidents, earlier and riskier sexual activity, increased medical costs to family members
  • Diagnostic and proven treatment options can be difficult to access and be cost prohibitive.


  • Students with ADHD are at a higher risk for lower academic achievement, grade retention, special education, disciplinary referrals and dropping out of high school
  • Medication treatment alone has not shown substantial long term academic improvement
  • There is a lack of educator education on ADHD and official recognition that ADHD impedes learning.

Justice and Corrections

  • Incidence rates of criminal activity are far greater for those with ADHD; offending begins earlier and there are higher rates of recidivism
  • Treatment has been shown to reduce criminal activity
  • There are no existing guidelines on screening and treating ADHD in the system.

Social Services

  • Those with ADHD have greater period of unemployment and are more dependent on social welfare
  • Guidelines for screening of ADHD, or knowledge within the employment and social assistance services, do not exist.

Official recognition of ADHD as an illness of significant cost to our provincial
and federal governments and their Ministries is essential.