How much does intellectual disability really cost? First estimates for Australia

J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2012 Mar;37(1):42-9. doi: 10.3109/13668250.2011.648609.


Background: Given the paucity of relevant data, this study estimates the cost of intellectual disability (ID) to families and the government in Australia.

Method: Family costs were collected via the Client Service Receipt Inventory, recording information relating to service use and personal expense as a consequence of ID. Government expenditure on the provision of support and services was estimated using top-down costing.

Results: A total of 109 parents participated. The cost of ID in Australia is high, especially for families. Total economic costs of ID are close to $14,720 billion annually. Opportunity cost of lost time provided 85% of family expense. A comparison of family expense and social welfare benefits received suggests that families suffer considerable loss. This may impact on families' physical and emotional wellbeing.

Conclusions: Monitoring of changes in expenditure is required. Policies should ensure that money devoted to ID is allocated in a rational, equitable, and cost-effective manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cost of Illness
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / economics*
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / economics*