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The Impact of Children on Australian Couples' Wealth Accumulation

Author

Listed:
  • Alfred Michael Dockery

    (School of Economics and Finance, Curtin University)

  • Sherry Bawa

    (School of Economics and Finance, Curtin University)

Abstract

Existing estimates of the cost of raising children mainly focus on what parents spend on their children. This paper challenges the conceptual basis for this approach, and instead investigates how the presence of children impacts upon couples’ wealth accumulation using the life-cycle approach and Australian household panel data. Both the results presented here for Australia and those contained in the existing literature suggest that raising a family has a very small impact upon wealth accumulation relative to the ‘cost’ implied from expenditure-based estimates. In reconciling these highly divergent estimates, we argue the estimates from the wealth approach make more intuitive sense on a number of fronts, with implications for families and policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfred Michael Dockery & Sherry Bawa, 2013. "The Impact of Children on Australian Couples' Wealth Accumulation," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1302, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:bcecwp:wp1302
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ferreira, M Luisa & Buse, Reuben C & Chavas, Jean-Paul, 1998. "Is There Bias in Computing Household Equivalence Scales?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(2), pages 183-198, June.
    2. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
    5. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2010. "Data Survey: The HILDA Survey: Progress and Future Developments," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(3), pages 326-336, September.
    6. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew Gray & David Stanton, 2010. "Costs of children and Equivalence Scales: A Review of Methodological Issues and Australian Estimates," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 13(1), pages 99-115.
    8. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Preston, Ian, 1994. "Life-cycle expenditure allocations and the consumption costs of children," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1391-1410, August.
    9. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1986. "On Measuring Child Costs: With Applications to Poor Countries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 720-744, August.
    10. M. Luisa Ferreira & Reuben C. Buse & Jean‐Paul Chavas, 1998. "Is There Bias In Computing Household Equivalence Scales?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(2), pages 183-198, June.
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    16. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, September.
    17. Bruce Bradbury, 2008. "Time And The Cost Of Children," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(3), pages 305-323, September.
    18. Trevor Breusch & Edith Gray, 2004. "New Estimates of Mothers’ Forgone Earnings Using HILDA Data," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 7(2), pages 125-150, June.
    19. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Franco Modigliani and the life-cycle theory of consumption," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 58(233-234), pages 91-107.
    20. Geoffrey Lancaster & Ranjan Ray, 1998. "Comparison of Alternative Models of Household Equivalence Scales: The Australian Evidence on Unit Record Data," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 74(224), pages 1-14, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelle Maroto, 2018. "Saving, Sharing, or Spending? The Wealth Consequences of Raising Children," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(6), pages 2257-2282, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    children; family; wealth; lifecycle model; savings;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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