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Evaluating Willingness to Pay as a Measure of the Impact of Dyslexia in Adults

  • Daniel Herrera-Araujo (a1), Bennett A. Shaywitz (a2), John M. Holahan (a2), Karen E. Marchione (a2), Reissa Michaels (a2), Sally E. Shaywitz (a2) and James K. Hammitt (a3) (a4)...

Abstract

While much is known about dyslexia in school-age children and adolescents, less is known about its effects on quality of life in adults. Using data from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, we provide the first estimates of the monetary value of improving reading, speaking, and cognitive skills to dyslexic and nondyslexic adults. Using a stated-preference survey, we find that dyslexic and nondyslexic individuals value improvements in their skills in reading speed, reading aloud, pronunciation, memory, and information retrieval at about the same rate. Because dyslexics have lower self-reported levels on these skills, their total willingness to pay to achieve a high level of skill is substantially greater than for nondyslexics. However, dyslexic individuals’ willingness to pay (averaging $3000 for an improvement in all skills simultaneously) is small compared with the difference in earnings between dyslexic and nondyslexic adults. We estimate that dyslexic individuals earn 15% less per year (about $8000) than nondyslexic individuals. Although improvements in reading, speaking, and cognitive skills in adulthood are unlikely to eliminate the earnings difference that reflects differences in educational attainment and other factors, stated-preference estimates of the value of cognitive skills may substantially underestimate the value derived from effects on lifetime earnings and health.

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*e-mail: jkh@harvard.edu

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