Child Cost Measures Based on Subjective Economic Well-being: A European Comparison

Sonja Spitzer , Vienna Institute of Demography
Angela Greulich, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Bernhard Hammer, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

We quantify and compare the cost of children in Europe by analysing the effect of child births on parents’ self-reported ability to make ends meet. This study is based on EU-SILC longitudinal data for 30 European countries from 2004 to 2015, enabling comparisons between country groups of different welfare regimes. Results show that newborns decrease subjective economic wellbeing in all regions. The drop is mainly caused by increased expenses due to the birth of a child (direct costs), which are largest in high-income regions. Immediate labour income losses of mothers (indirect costs) are less important in explaining the drop. These income losses are closely related to the employment patterns of mothers and are highest in regions where women take extensive parental leave. In the first years after the birth, indirect costs are mostly compensated for via public transfers or increased labour income of fathers, while direct costs of children are not.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality