It’s no secret kids can be expensive – but now actual figures have been put on what it costs to bring up a child in Australia.
The cost of raising a child is $140 a week for unemployed families and $170 per week for low-income families, according to new research.
That’s between $7280 and $8840 a year for each child – and the figures are conservative as they are calculated on tight budgets.
The weekly figures, published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, include the estimated costs of food, clothing, footwear, health, personal care, school expenses, as well as their share of household expenses including housing and energy costs.
The University of New South Wales carried out the research using a budget standards approach to estimate what it cost to achieve a ‘minimum income standard for healthy living’ in Australia.
The study found the estimated weekly costs for low-paid families of raising two children – a 6-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy – is $340 per week, or $170 per child.
For the unemployed, the weekly costs of raising two children is $280 per week, or $140 per child.
“We updated the existing budget standards using new ABS data on what Australians own, what they do and what they spend their money on,” UNSW Professor Peter Saunders explained.
“For example, we included the costs of mobile phones which are now commonplace and what it costs to feed and clothe children by pricing shelf items in nationwide stores, such as Woolworths and Kmart.”
Prof Saunders said there were a series of focus group interviews with low-income families about how they managed their budgets. This revealed important trends, including clothes swapping for school uniforms and buying more homebrand or generic items in supermarkets and chain stores.
The most expensive budget items were housing costs, based on families paying average prices for rental accommodation in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. The next most expensive items were food, household goods and services.
“The new estimates of the cost of children are considerably higher than those produced by updating the original budget standards created in 1995 because prevailing community standards have shifted upwards over the past two decades,” Prof Saunders said.
The research provides important data for assessing how much income unemployed and low-paid families need and could be used to guide the setting of the Newstart Allowance and minimum wage, he said.