Labor Market Participation and Productivity Costs for Female Caregivers of Minor Male Children With Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophies

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Introduction/Aims Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DBMD) are X-linked neuromuscular disorders characterized by progressive muscle weakness, leading to decreased mobility and multisystem complications. We estimate productivity costs attributable to time spent by a parent caring for a male child under the age of 18 y with DBMD, with particular focus on female caregivers of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) who have already lost ambulation. Methods Primary caregivers of males with DBMD in the Muscular Dystrophy Surveillance and Research Tracking Network (MD STARnet) were surveyed during 2011–2012 on family quality of life measures, including labor market outcomes. Of 211 respondents, 96 female caregivers of boys with DBMD were matched on state, year of survey, respondent's age, child's age, and number of minor children with controls constructed from Current Population Survey extracts. Regression analysis was used to estimate labor market outcomes and productivity costs. Results Caregivers of boys with DBMD worked 296 h less per year on average than caregivers of unaffected children, translating to a $8816 earnings loss in 2020 U.S. dollars. Caregivers of boys with DMD with ≥4 y of ambulation loss had a predicted loss in annualized earnings of $23,995, whereas caregivers of boys with DBMD of the same ages who remained ambulatory had no loss of earnings. Discussion Female caregivers of non-ambulatory boys with DMD face additional household budget constraints through income loss. Failure to include informal care costs in economic studies could understate the societal cost-effectiveness of strategies for managing DMD that might prolong ambulation.