Spending on Children: Direct Survey Evidence


  • Corresponding author: Martin Browning, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, Manor Road, Oxford OXI3UQ, UK. Email: martin.browning@economics.ox.ac.uk.

  • This article was prepared for the Deaton Festschrift Conference, Princeton, 2009. We are grateful to participants and a referee for their comments. Browning here records his warmest thanks to Angus Deaton for his inspirational skepticism stretching back to the ‘old days’ in Bristol. The survey we use was funded by the Danish Social Science Research Council and by the Danish National Research Council through its grant to CAM. We are grateful for the funding.


We present estimates of spending on children from a Danish expenditure survey which asks respondents directly about allocations of expenditures to individual household members. Our main finding is that the average Danish family allocates 44% of total assignable spending on non-food non-durables and services to children. There is considerable variation across households. More is spent on older children and expenditure on children is an increasing concave function of the number of ‘equivalent’ children. We find that households in which the mother has had a child by a previous partner spend 24% less on children than otherwise similar households.