The economic cost of child maltreatment in the UK

Topics: Child sexual abuse and CSE

Preliminary study estimating the lifetime costs of child abuse and neglect

This 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

Key findings

  • 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.


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