South-Western College Publishing - Economics  
Dear Children
Subject Opportunity Cost
Topic Scarcity, Choice, and Opportunity Cost
Key Words Cost, Income
News Story

Few people apparently concern themselves with the cost of child when deciding to have children. If they were to look at the cost, the population would be declining. A British study has found that a child raised in Britain costs approximately $80,000 up to age 17 for regular expenses such as clothing, books, trips, childcare, diapers, toiletries, presents, toys, and phone calls. As children grow, peer pressure may lead to more clothing and toy expenses. If both parents are working, or they divorce, feelings of guilt may cause them to satisfy their children's' demands with additional material things.

A private school education would add more, as would a full-time nanny. In addition, mothers with two children can lose $400,000 due to lost hours, lost promotions, part-time work, and lower retirement income.

(Updated April 1, 1999)

1. What are the explicit or direct, out-of-pocket, types of costs of having a child?
2. What are the implicit or indirect costs of having a child?
3. Given all these costs, why might it still be economically rational for people to decide to have children?
Source Jill Insley, "Treasures beyond price? You don't know the half of it", The Observer, February 7, 1999.

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