RICHMOND, NOV. 9 -- An economist for the committee representing Dalkon Shield claimants testified today that A.H. Robins Co. owes 173,805 persons an average payment of $37,112 as full compensation for injuries attributed to the intrauterine contraceptive device.

The number is nearly six times the 30,000 calculated by the manufacturer earlier in the U.S. District Court hearing.

The Dalkon Shield Claimants' Committee had previously estimated the cost of its proposal at $7.17 billion.

The $7 billion is nearly triple the $2.6 billion that Rorer Group Inc. plans to spend to acquire Robins, and six times the $1.2 billion maximum price tag Robins has put on its proposal to pay claims.

The committee's economist, Howard W. Pifer III, is chairman and chief executive officer of Putman, Haynes & Bartlett, a management consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., and a former professor at Harvard Business School.

He drew on the data base shared by all parties in the case, and based his calculations in part on the results of mailings of two key documents to potential claimants: a two-page questionnaire sent by the court, and a subsequent 50-page sworn questionnaire.

Pifer testified that if claimant responses to both questionnaires, rather than either one, were to be made the condition for compensation, the payout to claimants would be reduced to about $4.2 billion.

Based on his inflation-adjusted findings, he put pending claims, and assigned dollar values for them, in three major categories of current claimants:

4,614 whose untried-product liability lawsuits were frozen by the Chapter 11 filing;

179,776 who submitted notices of claims after the filing, and

29,415 so-called future claimants -- women in whom IUD-related injuries have or will become manifest in the 14 years ending in the year 2000.

Pifer's data show that the highest average settlement -- $458,456 -- was for birth defects, followed by $345,964 for maternal deaths.

At the bottom -- $7,568 -- were settlements with women who had "no support" for claimed Dalkon Shield-related medical conditions that did not leave them sterile, including unwanted pregnancy, impaired fertility and spontaneous abortion.

The average settlements for infertility were $116,058 where the woman had "strong support" for her claim, $43,220 where the claimant had "some support" for the claim, and $20,349 where she had "no information," particularly medical records.

Judge Robert Merhige Jr., who has presided over the case since Robins filed for voluntary bankruptcy in August 1985, flared when the claimants' committee lawyer tried to introduce testimony by one of two victims. He granted a company motion, filed earlier, to bar their testimony, but ruled that papers could be filed setting out what the women would have said about their personal expenses.

Earlier in the 11th-hour session -- which Merhige recessed until Wednesday, the sixth day of the hearing -- the claimants' committee presented two medical experts and a biostatistician, all of whom testified that the shield was a uniquely unsafe IUD.