Raising a child is unaffordable for the poorest 20% of Spanish families

Cradle, stroller, diapers and bottles, clothes, school supplies, transport, mobile phone… These are some of the many expenses involved in parenting. The cost of raising a son or daughter in Spain is, on average, 672 euros per month, according to a Save the Children study published this Tuesday. In 2018 it was 587: in four years, the care of children has increased by 85 euros per month, that is, 14.5%. Alexander Elu, poverty specialist at Save the Children, pointed out in the presentation of the report that this is a problem for many families: “If we analyze the percentage of income that households should invest in the care of their sons and daughters, we see that for the poorest 20% of families the cost of raising children is unaffordable”.

Since 2018, when Save the Children made its first calculation of this cost, inflation in Spain has increased by 11.3%. If this result is compared with the different costs of having sons and daughters, it can be seen that some have increased by a value similar to that of inflation —food (13%), hygiene (9%), clothing and footwear ( 13%) or housing (15%)—, but others in a much higher percentage —leisure and toys (25%), furniture and fixtures (30%) or energy supplies (53%)—. “The increase exceeds the general increase in prices, which reveals the relative cost of breeding”, Elu has developed.

Differences are found in the research. On the one hand, between regions. “Raising your son or daughter in Andalusia is not the same as raising your son or daughter in Catalonia or in the Community of Madrid,” Elu warned. These differences reach up to 178 euros per month per child between the average cost of parenting in Andalusia (641 euros) and Catalonia (819 euros): in the latter it is up to 27.8% more expensive than in the former. On the other hand, between the ages of boys and girls, whose needs change as they grow older, reflecting on family spending. This increases over the years and varies between 550 euros per month for the group from zero to three and 740 for the group from 13 to 17. From zero to six, the highest expense is that of conciliation —nursery, babysitters, school children—which represents between a third and a fifth of the total. From the age of seven, the highest item is food, which takes approximately 20%. “It makes no sense that, if as children grow up there are more expenses, less aid is received with age. It is necessary to support families in all stages of growth”, Elu denounced.

Insufficient parenting support policies

In addition to these high costs, Spain lacks parenting support policies comparable to those of the rest of the European Union, even though the country stands out for its high levels of child poverty: more than 2.6 million children and adolescents – one in three – are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, a figure only surpassed by Romania and Bulgaria. “Spanish policies to support parenting are very scarce and ineffective,” Elu emphasized. The Spanish system of support for families and children is characterized by a low level of spending on benefits and tax aids that, together, reach 1.3% of GDP, compared to 2.3% in the Union average European (EU).

The European countries that invest the most in childhood and family are Germany (3.4%), Luxembourg and Denmark (3.3% in both cases). In terms of direct monetary support or child-rearing benefits, Luxembourg leads with maximum annual benefits of €3,420, followed by Germany, with €2,328 per child. The Spanish child support system gives great weight, the largest in the EU, to tax deductions, which benefit higher income families to a greater extent. It also has a child-rearing assistance system that is very focused on the lowest income levels and of small amounts, but its weight on the whole of public support for children, close to a tenth of the total, is the lowest. from across the EU.

Catalina Perazzo, Director of Social and Political Advocacy at Save the Children, has declared: “It is an obligation on the part of the central government of both the autonomous communities to help families, especially the most vulnerable, so that all boys and girls get good cognitive and social development. For this reason, Save the Children proposes some measures to make childrearing easier for families and encourage birth rates. Among them, to implement a new child-rearing aid of 100 euros per month that, from 0 to 17 years of age and universally, reaches more families and covers 15% of the average cost. Also, tax menstrual hygiene products and diapers at the super-reduced VAT rate of 4%, or eliminate this tax. In addition, the organization recommends that regional income serve to complement state aid for upbringing. According to Perazzo, the cost of breeding is, in reality, “an investment that benefits and concerns everyone”.

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