Costs of childhood – Where’s the research?

At Voice of the Child we are asked a lot about cost of children.  Child support is, ostensibly meant to provide a contribution to the cost of raising children.

We decided to take a look at some of the data on cost of raising children. What exactly are the costs of bringing up children that Child Maintenance is meant to contribute towards?

Liverpool Victoria – 2014 study

Liverpool Victoria (LV=) did a report in 2014 called “From cradle to college” which defined the cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 21 was £227,266. On a crude annualised figure this equates to £10,822 per year (£901 per month).

Child Poverty Action Group – 2014 & 2016 studies

The Child Poverty Action group did a study in 2014 outlining the cost of children in couple and “lone parent” households. The “basic cost” (housing and child care cost excluded). The study shows that the “basic cost” in a lone parent household was £96,905 (to age 18) and the “full cost” was £172,694 over the same period. Looked at in a simple monthly rate over the 18 years this gives a figure of £499 per month on the “basic” calculation and £799 on the “full” amount.

Interestingly, the report also has some data around the percentage of total cost covered by the benefits of child tax credits and child benefit for the lower income households.

You can read the full 2014 report here.

In 2016, the CPAG did a similar study and found the basic cost in a lone parent household was £99,035 and the full cost was £182,589. This translates to monthly figures of £458 and £845 respectively. The full 2016 report can be found here.

Fraser Institute – 2013 study

The Fraser Institute conducted a study in 2013 into the cost of raising children. We would highlight that this is a North American costed report but the principles are interesting to think about.

There are some interesting points made in this study around the marginal costs associated with raising children. The basic marginal cost is defined as $3,000 to $4,500 and with the average cost actually spent on those who can afford it being $10,000 to $15,000 per annum (not too dissimilar from the LV= and CPAG reports mentioned above).

Small Fortunes – 1990’s

Small Fortunes was a piece of research published in the 1990’s (Small Fortunes: Spending on children, childhood poverty and parental sacrifice. Sue Middleton, Karl Ashworth and Ian Braithwaite Published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. ISBN 1 85935 032 1).

The relevance of this piece of research will be explored in a later Voice of the Child article.

At Voice of the Child we would of course be interested in seeing any further research into into children’s costs as we continue to explore this contentious area.

  1. Hazel on 20th March 2018 at 10:50 PM

  2. Grimsey on 20th March 2018 at 11:54 PM

    Single parents also get tax credits at the couple rate of £20,000.

    If they didn’t have kids the single childless person rate is only £13,400 (nrp’s are in this group (but they ain’t childless) unless they have a new partner or family

    Single parents used to get the single person rate but this was upped to the couple rate to help with the cost of running a home for the children. Thus housing costs are covered already.

    Obviously the amount a single parent receives in tax credits varies according to earnings but it will always be more than what a single person would get.

    The tax credits online calculator is a handy tool to see how it all works out.

    If a jobless partner moves in with a single parent then they would get nothing at all By way of tax credits for them as they are already getting tax credits as if there was a stay at home non working partner already there but they do not have to feed or clothe them. They effectively get the same rate as a family of 4 where one stays at home and one works.

    If a father has x days contact why base anything on a single parent rate of the cost of a child and not the couple rate considering they will have costs for contact too for which they get nothing at all from anywhere even if they earn below the single childless person rate as no child element is included.

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