The cost of children
"The cost of children" - overview and summary
Categories of expenditure on children
Results from the "Small Fortunes" research
Results from the Family Budget Unit
Results from "The Costs of Children and the Welfare State"
Results from "Measuring the Cost of Children: Estimates for Britain"
Results from "1999-2000 Family Expenditure Survey"
Results from "Pregnancy & birth" magazine, March 2001
What the government is prepared to pay for children in benefits & tax credits
The "cost of children" references
The cost of children in other nations
A related topic - sharing the wealth of the parents
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Blog archive & site history
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Categories of expenditure on children

Child support is about paying for the goods and services needed by the child, and perhaps also those desirably spent on the child, while it is growing up. Remember: middle-income parents tend to spend more on their children than poor parents. Rich ones tend to spend more than middle-income ones.

It is useful to have categories and checklists about where the money may be spent:

  • to ensure that nothing is missed (eg. are "toys" included?)
  • to allow some rigour when comparing one view with another (eg. do they both include "nappies" in "consumables"?)
  • to enable arguments and disagreements to to be focused (eg. should "designer clothes" be allowed for?)
  • to clarify what is not included (eg. "lost opportunity costs" of the resident parent)
Main category Specifics Comments
Fun entertainment The marginal extra cost of entertainment that exist because there is a child. If the parent wouldn't otherwise have done this, this may include the cost for the parent too.
  activities  
  hobbies  
  holidays The marginal extra cost of holidays that exist because there is a child. If the parent wouldn't otherwise have gone on holiday, this may include the cost for the parent too.
  toys  
  games  
Life education  
  books  
  magazines  
  career-preparation  
Consumables food  
  clothes  
  nappies  
  toiletries  
Accommodation shelter The marginal extra cost specifically for the child. For example, having an extra bedroom. (This may increase the rent or the mortgage, or incur the cost of moving house).
  comfort The marginal extra cost specifically for the child.
  heat The marginal extra cost specifically for the child.
Travel vehicles The marginal extra cost specifically for the child. For example, having a larger vehicle. (Judging by the cars parked outside schools, this appears to mean the marginal extra cost of having an off-road vehicle! Why?)
  fuel The marginal extra cost specifically for the child. If the parent wouldn't otherwise have traveled, this may include the cost for the parent too.
  fares The marginal extra cost specifically for the child. If the parent wouldn't otherwise have traveled, this may include the cost for the parent too.
Care health  
  child  
  other care  
  baby-sitting  
Money pocket money They'll spend 38% of this on sweets & crisps! (Halifax LittleXtra Club Savers survey).
  investments  
Incidentals telephone calls  
  external liabilities For example, the child bikes into someone's car and the parent pays for it to be retouched. (The car!)
  celebrations  
  anniversaries  

Not included

For completeness, the following are not included in the costs of children:

The "lost opportunity" cost of a stay-at-home or reduced-career spouse/partner:

  • Career break
  • Out-of-date skills
  • Low pension

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Page last updated: 5 July, 2004 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003