The economic cost of child maltreatment in the UK Preliminary study estimating the lifetime costs of child abuse and neglect

Girl sat on the floorThis is the first UK-based study to estimate the lifetime economic costs of child maltreatment. The estimates are based on economic analysis of existing UK longitudinal datasets. This study represents a baseline on which future, more comprehensive, studies could be built when better data are available. By publishing this research we hope to contribute to both the economic evaluation of existing child maltreatment interventions and prevention services and the business case for new services and interventions.

This study gives a conservative estimate for the financial costs of child maltreatment in terms of:

  • health care
  • social care
  • education
  • the criminal justice system
  • the impact of lost productivity on the economy.

It does not, and cannot, capture the significant intangible costs of abuse to the individuals involved, such as the emotional suffering borne by victims. 

Research was conducted by University College London (UCL) on behalf of the NSPCC.

Authors: Gabriella Conti, Stephen Morris, Mariya Melnychuk, Elena Pizzo.
Published: 2017

  • The estimated average lifetime cost of non-fatal child maltreatment by a primary care-giver is £89,390 (with a 95% certainty that the costs fall between £44,896 and £145, 508).
  • The largest contributors to this cost are social care costs, short-term health-related costs, and the costs resulting from a lower probability of employment.
  • This study presents a very conservative estimate of the economic costs of child maltreatment, limited by the range of child maltreatment and outcome measures available.
An introduction from NSPCC 5
Overview 6
1. Literature review on the economic impact of child maltreatment 7
2. Datasets and definition of child maltreatment 10
3. The effects of child maltreatment 15
4. The long-term economic consequences of child maltreatment in the UK 28
5. Discussion 46
References 49
Appendix 51

Please cite as: Conti, G. et al (2017) The economic cost of child maltreatment in the UK: a preliminary study. London: NSPCC.

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