Economic Burden of Autism Spectrum Disorder in China



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects social communication and interaction. It can have a significant impact on the quality of life for individuals with ASD and their families. The economic costs of ASD are also substantial.


Costs of ASD


    • The study estimates the lifetime cost of ASD for individuals in China to be:
      • $2.65 million for individuals without intellectual disability (ID).
      • $4.61 million for individuals with ID.
    • The annual cost of ASD to China is estimated to be $41.8 billion.

Comorbidity-related and unrelated costs


The study finds that comorbid conditions, such as epilepsy and anxiety, significantly increase the costs of ASD. Non-medical costs, such as special education and transportation, are also a major driver of costs, particularly for individuals with ID.

Age-specific costs


The costs of ASD vary depending on the age of the individual. Costs are highest in the early years of life, when children with ASD require intensive interventions. Costs tend to decrease as individuals with ASD age and become more independent.




ASD is a major economic burden on families and the healthcare system in China. More research is needed to understand the full costs of ASD and to develop effective and affordable interventions.



What is the economic burden of ASD in China?


  • The total annual cost of ASD in China is estimated to be $41.8 billion, which accounts for approximately 0.27% of China’s GDP and 3.76% of China’s total healthcare expenditures.
  • Individuals with ASD without intellectual disability (ID) have a lifetime cost of $2.65 million, while those with ASD and ID have a lifetime cost of $4.61 million.


What are the cost drivers of ASD in China?


  • For individuals with ASD without ID, productivity losses account for the majority of the costs (55.91%), followed by nonmedical costs (37.25%).
  • For individuals with ASD and ID, nonmedical costs are the biggest driver (35.73%), followed by direct medical costs (33.24%) and indirect costs (31.03%).


How does the presence of ID impact the cost of ASD?


  • The presence of ID significantly increases the cost of ASD. Individuals with ASD and ID have a 74.13% higher lifetime cost than those without ID.
  • This is likely due to the need for additional support services and care for individuals with ID.


What are the limitations of this study?


  • This study only included individuals with ASD who were diagnosed in hospitals, which may not capture the full picture of the economic burden of ASD in China.
  • The study also did not include all possible cost items, such as the costs of informal caregiving.


What are the implications of this study for policy makers?


  • This study highlights the need for more comprehensive and accurate estimates of the economic burden of ASD in China.
  • It also suggests that policy makers should focus on providing support services for individuals with ASD and their families, particularly those with ID.



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