Productivity losses associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in New Zealand

N Z Med J. 2016 Aug 19;129(1440):72-83.


Aim: To estimate the productivity losses due to morbidity and premature mortality of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in New Zealand (NZ).

Methods: A demographic approach with a counterfactual scenario in which nobody in NZ is born with FASD was used. Estimates were calculated using (Census Year) 2013 data for the NZ population, the labour force, unemployment rate and average weekly wage, all of which were obtained from Statistics NZ. In order to estimate the number of FASD cases in 2013 and the related morbidity, the prevalence of FASD, obtained from the available epidemiological literature, was applied to the general population of NZ. Assumptions made on the level of impairment that would affect the ability of individuals with FASD to participate in the workforce or would reduce their productivity were based on data obtained from the current epidemiological literature.

Results: In 2013, approximately 0.03% of the NZ workforce experienced a loss of productivity due to FASD-attributable morbidity and premature mortality, which translated to aggregate losses ranging from $NZ49 million to $NZ200 million - that is, 0.03% to 0.09% of the annual gross domestic product in NZ. These costs represent estimates for lost productivity attributable to FASD and do not include additional costs incurred by governmental and private entities including social costs, such as both higher costs and or less effective spending by the education, health and justice systems.

Conclusion: The estimated productivity losses associated with FASD further reinforces that effective FASD prevention as a primary public health strategy may be of significant value.

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness*
  • Employment / economics*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology*
  • Mortality, Premature / trends*
  • New Zealand / epidemiology