ADHD News & Research

ADHD and Comorbidities Negatively Impact Income, Employment

ADHD is linked to above-average unemployment, below-average pay, and an increased likelihood of receiving disability benefits, according to a large study of adults with ADHD in Sweden.

March 23, 2021

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) significantly hinders professional outcomes in high school graduates with the condition, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.1 Specifically, adults with ADHD earn approximately 17% less than their peers without ADHD, are more likely to experience periods of unemployment, and are more likely to receive disability benefits due to their inability to work.

Researchers followed 1.2 million Swedes for six to sixteen years after high school and compared them to population-wide register-based data on clinical psychiatric diagnoses and medications, plus objective annual measures of educational and occupational outcomes.

Compared to individuals without ADHD, adults with the condition experienced annual income that was 17% lower, 12.19 more days of unemployment, and a higher likelihood of receiving disability pension. Intellectual disability and comorbid developmental disorder explained most of the association between ADHD and disability pension. Lifetime educational attainment partially accounted for the link between ADHD and all occupational outcomes.

Findings demonstrated that the occupational gap between individuals with and without ADHD was persistent over time. Researchers did not study whether treating ADHD in childhood and beyond could reverse unemployment trends. Interventions to improve occupational outcomes in adults with ADHD should consider comorbid developmental disorders, intellectual disability, and educational difficulties.

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1 Jangmo, Andreas, et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and occupational outcomes: The role of educational attainment, comorbid developmental disorders, and intellectual disability. PLOS ONE (March 2021).