Pieces to the Puzzle - Economic Aspects of Autism and Special Needs Children
Children with special needs impose several direct and indirect cost on a household. Direct cost include payment for therapy, special education, and child care. Indirect cost are associated with a reduction of health status, work hours, and lifetime earnings for the care giver. Disabilities due to neuro-developmental and mental health problems increased dramatically between 2001 and 2010. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that nearly six million children had a disability in 2010 - an increase of almost 1 million from the 2001 estimates with an estimated total annual cost of $247 billion. The first paper considers the effect of assortive mating on the likelihood of having a child with special needs. The paper asserts that individuals with similar genetic make-up sort into similar occupations and then marry; thereby, increasing the likelihood of children with special needs among certain individuals with similar genomes. The growing public health cost of special needs has lead several states to adopt Medicaid wavers to lessen the financial burn on these families. The second paper examines the effect of Medicaid coverage generosity for children with mental health disabilities on their access and quality of care relative to privately insured households. The third paper uses the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics to estimate the effect of special needs children on household financial decisions. The direct cost of care associated with special needs children cause household to face a tradeoff between immediate therapy investments versus long term financial investments to care for the child.