Major differences in the cost of a child across ages
Child Benefit contributes between 11% and 67% of a child costs
The cost of a child are high in infancy, before falling at pre-school age, and then gradually rising as children grow older, according to a new study carried out by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ)
According to the study “The Cost of a Child”, expenditure fluctuates because of the needs of children at particular ages, location, parental employment status and the subsequent need for childcare.
A child at second level has the highest weekly costs (€144.92 in an urban household and €140.20 in a rural household) and a pre-school child has the lowest. (€48.29 urban and €50.03 rural). When a child enters adolescence costs increase for a number of categories including food, education, social inclusion and participation and communications.
With childcare included an infant has the highest cost per week (€296.13 urban and €260.31 rural) and a child at primary age the lowest (€130.30 urban and €134.72 rural).
While Child Benefit accounts for 11% of the cost of an infant in an urban household where there is childcare costs, this rises to 67% for a Primary school child in an urban household where there are no childcare costs. The respective percentages for a rural household are 12% and 65%
“It can be argued that child benefit and current social welfare rates are arbitrary, in that they have been decided by Government officials and other policy makers without any sense of what it actually costs to raise a child. This study attempts to overcome this information deficit by providing data on the direct cost of raising a child from infancy to mid second level school age”, said Dr. Bernadette MacMahon Director, VPSJ.
The study examined the direct cost of a child at four stages of childhood – Infant, Pre-school, Primary School and Second level, across urban and rural households. It shows the fluctuation in costs across 13 areas of expenditure directly related to a child, e.g. food, clothing, childcare. It excludes costs shared in common with parents, such as heating or the use of a family car.
It also considers the contribution that child income support payments make at Infant, Pre-school, Primary and Secondary school levels. “This will be particularly relevant to policy makers, and to all individuals and organisations concerned with the well-being of children. At a time of economic recession it is important to support those on low incomes and ensure child income supports make a realistic contribution to the cost of raising a child.” said Dr Mac Mahon.
Summary of weekly cost of a child
URBANWith Full-time Childcare: Infant €296.13, Pre-School €223.87, Primary €130.30, Secondary €144.92
No Childcare: Infant €91.13, Pre-School €48.29, Primary €78.66, Secondary €144.92
Add food costs for lone parent families:Infant Nil, Pre-School €3.68, Primary €5.59, Secondary €6.97
Child benefit contributionNo childcare: Infant 35%, Pre-School 67%, Primary 41%, Secondary 22%
With childcare: Infant 11%, Pre-School 14%, Primary 25%, Secondary 22%
RURALWith Full-time Childcare: Infant €260.31, Pre-School €183.44, Primary €134.72, Secondary €140.20
No Childcare: Infant €92.98, Pre-School €50.03, Primary €83.04, Secondary €140.20
Add food costs for lone parent families:Infant Nil, Pre-School 4.68, Primary 7.12, Secondary 8.88
Child benefit contributionNo childcare: Infant 35%, Pre-School 65%, Primary 39%, Secondary 23%
With childcare: Infant 12%, Pre-School 18%, Primary 24%, Secondary 23%
Bernadette MacMahon said; “What this data demonstrates is that costs generally increase as children grow older but social welfare and CB payments remain static (except for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance), Therefore consideration needs to be given to the possibility of introducing different levels of payment at different stages of childhood, particularly at adolescence, with no reduction in payments for children in the intervening years.”