Posted on February 22, 2011

British Family Is Shrinking As 60 Percent of Parents Say We Can’t Afford a Second Child

Becky Barrow, Daily Mail (London), Feb. 21, 2011

Almost two thirds of parents who have one child say they are too poor to have a second.

The crippling cost of bringing up youngsters means the average size of a British family is ‘shrinking’, a report claimed yesterday.

It found the average bill for raising a child from birth until the age of 21 is around £270,000.

From nappies to cots, shoes to dentists’ bills, new bicycles to the cost of school trips and after-school clubs, the costs are endless.

And this is before parents have embarked upon luxuries, such as foreign holidays and private education–which costs an average of £8,000 per term.

When asked why they were not going to have a second child, 58 per cent of parents with one child cited ‘money’ as the overwhelming reason.

Some 64 per cent of those with two children say they cannot afford to have a third.

Researchers warn: ‘The average UK family size could be set to shrink as the cost of bringing up a child spirals to £271,499.’ Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the average number of children born to married or cohabiting couples has fallen.

In 1971, such couples typically had two dependent children. The latest figures, from 2009, show they have an average of 1.7. The number of married or cohabiting couples who have one child has risen from 16 per cent in 1972 to 20 per cent today.

The report comes as families face the biggest financial squeeze since the 1920s.

The cost of living is rising faster than salaries, with state workers set for a two-year pay freeze if they earn £21,000 or more and private sector workers typically getting a two per cent rise.

Motoring costs are particularly high with record petrol prices and a 33 per cent hike in the average cost of comprehensive car insurance.

Louise Colley, mother of three-year-old twins, said: ‘When I had my scan and found I was having twins, I joked: “That’s private school out of the window”. As a mum, I completely understand the financial pressures that parents are under. Nursery fees, in particular, are astronomical.’

The research by insurance firm Aviva was based on interviews with 1,000 parents with children under the age of 22. It divides the £271,499 total bill for raising a child into four categories.

These are ‘education’, which includes anything from school trips to private school fees and university costs. The total bill is £66,938.

Next is ‘household services’, which includes items such as internet connection, train fares and help towards a deposit on a child’s first home. The total bill is £77,080.

The third is ‘clothing and food’, which includes all nappies and prams, children’s clothes, shoes and boots, as well as food and school dinners. The total bill is £69,332.

The final category is ‘leisure’, which includes children’s activities, pocket money, holidays and toys. The total bill is £58,149.