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Researchers Find Adults with ADHD May Struggle Financially

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Chronic disorganization, restlessness, forgotten details, and missed deadlines. These are just some of the negative effects that common symptoms of adult ADHD—or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—often have on the lives of those who suffer from it. According to researchers at The Ohio State University and University of Florida, adults with ADHD may struggle financially as a result.

RewardExpert spoke with Itzhak (Zahi) Ben-David, professor of finance at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, about the importance of the study he conducted with colleagues Dr. Theordore P. Beauchaine (also of The Ohio State University), and Dr. Aner Sela (of University of Florida Warrington College of Business).

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Planning and Organization Essential to Personal Finance

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 60 percent of U.S. children with ADHD grow into adults with ADHD, a figure equivalent to about 4 percent of the nation’s adult population.

“When I learned about ADHD in children, I wondered what happened to them when they grew up,” Ben-David explained when asked about the inspiration behind his study. “Children with ADHD have difficulty with executive functions such as planning and organization. Much of our society—including labor and personal finance—are based on planning and organization.”

He continued, “For example, being on time to work, planning for retirement, paying your credit card on time, and paying rent. We wondered how people with ADHD symptoms fair in such a demanding environment.”

Ben-David and his colleagues surveyed 544 people for the study, utilizing questions intended to identify ADHD tendencies and to measure impulse control and financial management. Their aim: to determine if economic behavior—including credit card usage, employment history and debt management—is compromised for adults with ADHD. image
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Important Social Issues

Upon analyzing the results of the survey, Ben-David and his colleagues found that adults with ADHD often struggle with financial skills and have difficulty resisting impulsivity. These adults use payday loans and pawn shops more often than people without ADHD do. They also pay more late fees on their credit cards and overdraft fees on their bank accounts. Additionally, they switch employers with greater frequency.

Ben-David noted that the study’s findings were observed over and above the effects of age, income, education, and substance abuse and are important for furthering understanding of where people with ADHD struggle and why.

“The results also raise important social issues,” he added. “For example, if ADHD is considered a disability, what arrangements can society make to accommodate the difficulties of this population? Should they have to pay late fees on credit cards? Should they be legally protected from being fired if they show up late to work? These are complex questions that we do not attempt to answer.”

Learn More

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that less than 20 percent of adults with ADHD have been diagnosed—and only about 25 percent of those who have seek help. If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder and treatment options, both the Attention Deficit Disorder Association and CHADD are excellent resources. And if you’d like to review Ben-David’s study in greater detail, it is available on PLOS ONE.

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