Objectives: We explored the economic implications of conduct disorder (CD) among adolescents in 4 poor communities in the United States. We examined a range of expenditures related to this disorder across multiple public sectors, including mental health, general health, school, and juvenile justice.
Methods: We used self- and parental-report data to estimate expenditures during a 7-year period in late adolescence of a sample of youths. We contrasted expenditures for youths with CD and youths with oppositional defiant disorder, elevated symptoms (no CD diagnosis), and all others. Diagnosis was determined with a structured assessment.
Results: Additional public costs per child related to CD exceeded $70000 over a 7-year period.
Conclusions: Public expenditures on youths with CD are substantially larger than for youths with closely related conditions, reflecting the importance of prevention and early treatment for the disorder.