Loss of earnings, food, clothing, education: that’s how much a child “costs”

Loss of earnings, food, clothing, education: this is how much a child costs

  • What does a child "cost"?? Of course it’s unaffordable.
  • Nevertheless, parents incur costs between birth and adulthood, both direct and indirect, for example through loss of earnings.
  • This is increasingly becoming an existential problem for many families.

Loss of earnings, food, clothing, education: that's how much a child 'costs'

The "value" of children is of course not measured in cents and euros. But money plays a major role in most families: many are under a heavy financial burden, and poverty is not uncommon.

The two most important reasons for this are obvious: on the one hand, families often have comparatively low incomes, because often only one parent works full time and the other does not work at all, works part time or is marginally employed. According to the hannoversche insurance company, the average loss of earnings until the child reaches the age of majority is around 140 euros.000 euro.

According to the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), parents have to spend an average of 763 euros per month on a child. Expenses increase with age: from six years to over 786 euros and from twelve years to 953 euros. This includes almost all costs – from food and housing to school books and childcare.

Loss of earnings, food, clothing, education: that's how much a child 'costs'

Although statistically speaking, the costs for each additional child are relative, explains sebastian heimann, national managing director of the german family association. For example, clothes can be passed on and the children’s room can be shared with their siblings. "but in the end it remains a high financial burden for families," he emphasizes.

165.000 euros per child – and up to 230.000 euros for studies

Until the age of 18. the costs add up to a considerable amount: around 165.000 euros parents have to spend on one child. With two children, it’s about 100.000 euros additionally, and with three children, a total of about 330.000 euros. Even after the age of 18. The age of 18 is often not the end of the road: according to the consumer advice center in bavaria, 230,000 euros can be spent on a course of study.000 euros come together.

"however, the average figures given should be interpreted with caution, as expenditure on children depends very much on household income," explains a spokesperson for the BMFSFJ: for example, parents with a high household income spend up to three times as much on their children as families with less money at their disposal. regional differences also play a role, explains heimann: "a family in munich will have different expenses than a family in mecklenburg-vorpommern."


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Families receive little financial support from the state. Although child benefits of 219 euros per month are available for the first two children, 225 euros for the third and 250 euros for each additional child, the result is that the average annual childcare allowance is even lower than for the first two children. But in a way, this is a tax refund that takes into account each child’s subsistence level, explains heimann. Parents are also generally entitled to parental allowance. Low-income earners receive child allowances and housing benefits and can benefit from the education and participation program (but). "But it’s not the state’s job to compensate for all the costs that can arise from having children," emphasizes the ministry spokesman.

This makes itself felt in the household budgets of families. The German Family Association has determined what is left over from income. the result: with an average annual income of 41.after deducting all compulsory expenses and the minimum subsistence level, a single person can still live on 541 euros for more than 1 year.445 euros free at your disposal. In contrast, families with two children have no financial leeway despite child benefits. Large families even run up a deficit. They often have comparatively high expenses to cope with – for example, for a spacious car or a large apartment. Rising food and energy prices are having a major impact on them.

Risk of poverty high among single parents and large families

The risk of poverty is therefore particularly high in families with many children, says peter-michael zernechel, spokesman for the german social association (sovd). Children of single parents are also frequently affected.

2.8 million children in germany are currently growing up in poverty – just over ten years ago, the figure was only 350.000 less. The sovd demands that policymakers address the problem holistically. What is needed is greater financial support and a reduction in value-added tax on products and services for children. In addition, educational opportunities should be improved and health care strengthened. zernechel believes the government coalition’s planned basic child benefit is a step in the right direction.

In Germany, poverty is defined as having 60 percent or less of the median income of the population at one’s disposal. To improve the income situation of families, childcare must be greatly expanded, says zernechel. in addition, the re-entry into the profession should be made easier. More flexible working time models are also necessary. Heimann also calls for a significant reduction in social security contributions in the form of a tax-free allowance. At present, parents pay just as much into pension, health and unemployment insurance as those without children. The intergenerational agreement is therefore detrimental to them, according to critics.

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