Initial evidence that non-clinical autistic traits are associated with lower income

26 Feb 2018

Among non-clinical samples, autistic traits correlate with a range of educational and social outcomes. However, previous work has not investigated the relationship between autistic traits and income, a key determinant of socio-economic status and wellbeing. In 5 studies (total N = 2491), we recruited participants without a diagnosis of autism from the general US population via an on-line platform, and administered the short-form Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) as well as asking a range of demographic questions. We found a negative association between AQ and household income, which remained robust after controlling for age, gender, education, employment status, ethnicity, and socially-desirable responding. The effect was primarily driven by the participant’s own income, and was mainly due to the social subscale of the AQ. These results provide initial evidence that income is negatively related to autistic traits among the general population, with potential implications for a range of social, psychological, and health outcomes.