Society may be willing to pay a high price to prevent child abuse and neglect, study suggests

Feb 22, 2011

The amount the public will pay to prevent the death of a child may be twice that of an adult, according to a new University of Georgia study that asked 199 individuals how much they would pay to prevent a death from child abuse or neglect.

The research, published in the March edition of the , found that respondents were willing to pay an average of $150 to reduce the mortality risk associated with by one in 10,000.

"This study is trying, for the first time, to put a dollar value on what it means to prevent a case of child maltreatment, and in this case, to prevent a death associated with child maltreatment," said Phaedra Corso, head of the department of and management in the UGA College of Public Health.

If applied to a hypothetical group of 100,000 people, the study found that society may value preventing a death from child maltreatment at $15 million. These numbers suggest that if an intervention is effective enough to save even one life, the benefits will outweigh the costs, explained Corso.

The number that the government now uses for value of statistical life is $7.4 million. The figure is used to assess regulatory policies, explained Corso. "Is it the case that people value preventing the death of a child more than they do an average adult? I would say yes," said Corso. "It could very well be the case that as a society we care more about kids because they have more to lose and they have not experienced life."

The government only uses the standard value, explained Corso, so age adjusting according to different values of statistical life could affect the way that federal money is appropriated.

Corso uses the term child maltreatment to cover abuse, which can be sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect, which can be emotional or physical. Further study of how much people are willing to pay to prevent the death of a child from abuse or neglect could influence government programs such as home visitations by public health professionals, which have proven to be so effective that the federal government designated billions of dollars for such programs across the country as part of health care reform, said Corso.

The results of willingness-to-pay studies provide an opportunity to economically evaluate intervention programs, said Corso. "We now have a dollar value for the interventions, so we can start balancing the cost of the intervention with the benefits of the intervention."

The study also found that people were willing to pay more in taxes than in donations. "The explanation is that when there is a good that you are paying for, a public good, like programs that prevent violence, which is something that could hit all of us, people want that spread around so that we all take care of it," said Corso. "This has policy implications. If we care about and neglect as a community, it means we all have to pay for it."

Corso suggested that future studies explore how child maltreatment compares to other childhood problems such as cancer and substance abuse. "Is it that people are willing to pay because it's child maltreatment, or is it that they are willing to pay because it's a kid?" asked Corso.

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Unemployment linked with child maltreatment

Oct 03, 2010

The stresses of poverty have long been associated with child abuse and neglect. In a study presented Sunday, Oct. 3, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco, researchers ...

Early neglect predicts aggressive behavior in children

Apr 07, 2008

Children who are neglected before their second birthday display higher levels of aggressive behavior between ages 4 and 8, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study, published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

Nov 21, 2014

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.