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The costs of raising children and the effectiveness of policies to support parenthood in European countries: a Literature Review


  • Marie-Thérèse Letablier

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Angela Luci

    () (INED - Institut national d'études démographiques)

  • Antoine Math

    (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales - IRES)

  • Olivier Thévenon

    () (INED - Institut national d'études démographiques)


The purpose of this report is to produce an overview of available knowledge about the following issues: the costs (to parents) of parenthood and of raising children in European Countries; the effectiveness, in the short and long term, of various policy measures in avoiding or compensating for those costs; 8 the impact of different policy instruments aimed at supporting families according to various policy objectives, e.g. achieving family projects, reconciling family and working life, reducing child poverty, raising the levels of education and well being of children, and increasing equal opportunities. the wider economic and social costs and benefits of policy interventions in support of families. The current state of knowledge on the following issues is presented as follows in this review report: The costs of children and the challenges for public policies supporting parenthood (chapter 1); author: O. Thévenon The policy instruments used in the EU to support families and reduce the costs of parenthood (Chapter 2); authors: A. Math and O. Thévenon The impacts of these policies on families: o On fertility and the decision to have children (chapter 3); authors M-Th. Letablier and O. Thévenon o On parents‘ participation in the labour market, gender equality and work-life balance (chapter 4); authors: M-Th. Letablier, A. Luci, O. Thévenon o On children‘s well-being (chapter 5): M-Th. Letablier and O. Thévenon The wider economic and social costs and benefits of such policies (Chapter 6); author: A. Luci. The review of literature presented in this report attempts to make the tools, goals and impacts of family policies more clear and comparable across countries, in order to facilitate the circulation of knowledge between Member States, notably in the context of the European Alliance for Families and the newly established High Level Experts Group on Demography Issues. The report provides a review of recent literature and available data material on the direct and indirect costs of raising children in the European Union (using international as well as particularly important national studies). Ground breaking studies from countries outside the EU, of particular interest from a methodological point of view, are also included in the review. Focus is on the following kinds of costs of having and raising children over the long and short term: - Direct financial costs, e.g. for housing, health care, education, child care, - Indirect financial costs, e.g. for lost income, lost pension rights, lost career prospects etc. , also taking into account the impact on gender roles and gender equality. The costs of raising children are examined at the different phases of their development, from birth through to the age at which they become autonomous. The overview also summarizes knowledge on the main determinants of costs, including, the effects of the number of children, the socio-economic status of parents, and the family structure. Significant differences in cost levels and structures across Member States are identified. The overview also identifies gaps in the available knowledge, and highlights some issues for future research that have the potential to contribute to a better understanding of the policy impact and to better comparability across the European Union.

Suggested Citation

  • Marie-Thérèse Letablier & Angela Luci & Antoine Math & Olivier Thévenon, 2009. "The costs of raising children and the effectiveness of policies to support parenthood in European countries: a Literature Review," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00408899, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-00408899
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Abu-Ghaida, Dina & Klasen, Stephan, 2004. "The Costs of Missing the Millennium Development Goal on Gender Equity," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1075-1107, July.
    3. Allen Kelley & Robert Schmidt, 2005. "Evolution of recent economic-demographic modeling: A synthesis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 275-300, June.
    4. Brander, James A & Dowrick, Steve, 1994. "The Role of Fertility and Population in Economic Growth: Empirical Results from Aggregate Cross-National Data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 7(1), pages 1-25.
    5. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Jaypee Sevilla, 2001. "Economic Growth and the Demographic Transition," NBER Working Papers 8685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ronald R. Rindfuss & Minja Kim Choe & Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, 2016. "The Emergence of Two Distinct Fertility Regimes in Economically Advanced Countries," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(3), pages 287-304, June.
    2. Maria-Isabel Farfan-Portet & Vincent Lorant & Francesca Petrella, 2011. "Access to Childcare Services: The Role of Demand and Supply-Side Policies," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(2), pages 165-183, April.
    3. Olivier Thévenon & Angela Luci, 2012. "Reconciling Work, Family and Child Outcomes: What Implications for Family Support Policies?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(6), pages 855-882, December.
    4. Eichhorst, Werner & Thode, Eric, 2010. "Report No. 30: Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf 2010," IZA Research Reports 30, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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    cost of children; family policies; work and family life reconciliation; fertility; female employment;

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