chapter  14
20 Pages

Children’s share of household consumption

ByHannele Sauli

The cost of children is a crucial element in evaluations of the living standards of families. For one thing, conceptions about and measures of the cost of children have direct implications for practical social policy: child support, alimony and other income transfers in a society. At the same time, they form a conceptual and measurement problem in quantitative empirical research on economic well-being at the micro and macro levels. Not only are children’s costs an interesting research area in their own right, but measurements of how much families spend on children or what they are supposed to spend affect empirical analyses of income distribution and poverty through their impact on equivalence scales. In general, perceptions about the cost of children are compressed into the weights in equivalence scales. Since researchers have developed a lot of different scales, one wonders whether all their implications are fully understood among the users of research results. In the first part of this chapter I therefore discuss different scales and their uses. Since they may turn into self-fulfilling norms through political decisions and social policy practices, it is important to understand what kinds of standpoints they reflect.