Study reveals having children older than 12 costs more than having younger children

A study has revealed that the cost of having a child aged 12 or over is significantly higher than the cost of having younger children.

According to a new cost-of-living report from the ­Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP), having children aged 12 or older can cause up to 60% higher costs, compared to parents with younger children.

The study included the minimum essential standard of ­living (MESL), which involves goods and services that people typically agree are necessary to live adequately.

In this year’s latest report, it was discovered that the MESL cost of a child aged 12 or older is approximately €149 a week, compared to €60 for a preschool child.

However, it was also noted that baby expenses have increased dramatically since 2020, mostly due to the rise in costs of baby formula (up by 37%) and nappies (up by 84%).

Infant food costs have also risen by just over 7% in the last year, making them around 27% higher than in 2020.

The study found that for each age group, food was listed as being the most expensive cost, followed by clothing for infants and pre-school children. For school-age children, social-inclusion costs - such as after-school clubs and events with their friends - were noted as being the second biggest cost.

When it comes to social welfare, the study found that the level of household income needed to meet food costs has increased for both working-age households and retired couples.

“In 2024, 76% of test cases have inadequate incomes when reliant on social welfare. This is an improvement from the 87% of cases in 2023 but remains above the rates of inadequacy found prior to the recent inflation shock,” SVP wrote.

The report by SVP concluded that the current national minimum wage is “inadequate” for covering household costs, and that parenting support, housing and affordable childcare “are vital for achieving income adequacy”.