Thursday 14 December 2017

Children are proving to be more costly now

The timeframe of financial responsibility is increasing

Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

These days children take much longer to leave home, a fact that is proving to be a big drain on household budgets. Back in 1992 the average age of a new bride was 27 and 29 for the groom.

But by 2006 women were getting married at the age of 31 and men were generally 33, according to Central Statistics Office figures.

These changing demographics mean that the timeframe for financial responsibility now stretches much longer into the working life of parents, according to sales manager of Caledonian Life Daragh Feely.

"When we step back 30 years to 1980, we find that the previous generation of parents typically married in their early to mid 20s," Mr Feely said.

"They started their families within a year or two."

At the moment the average age of new mothers in Ireland is 29. Those born in the 1980s will know that this is significantly older than when their mothers first had children -- at 22, 23 and 24 years of age.

Not only are people substantially older before they now make those first steps to parenthood, but children are now also several years older before they themselves make their first steps to adulthood, through entering the labour force.


During the 1980s a much lower percentage of school leavers went to college. As a result, this generation became financially independent at a typical average age of 18 or 19.

Contributing to this was the fact that a much higher percentage of children took up apprenticeships at 15 or 16. Others completed their Leaving Cert and then if they were lucky, got a "good job" in the public service, bank or insurance company at 17, Mr Feely said.

A lower percentage of this generation went on to college and of those that did the majority completed their course within two to four years.

Few would have considered or had the opportunity, often due to financial constraints, to complete a masters or a PhD before leaving college.

In this era, for a family wanting full financial protection, new parents simply needed to take out a 20-year life assurance policy when they had their first child and also begin a pension plan at the same time that would provide financially for both parents upon retirement. This situation has since changed dramatically, the Caledonian Life manager said.

"That is to say, the nineties and 'noughties' saw the advent of a generation where people were and are considerably older getting married, and older again starting a family."

The average age of new mums and dads is now stretching into the early to mid 30s, according to the CSO.

And the average age at which most children can be deemed financially independent is estimated to be in their early to mid 20s.

This can be traced to many more young adults now participating in third-level education. Remaining in college or university for six to seven years in no longer unusual, Mr Feely said.


Extended education and youth unemployment of nearly 25pc now means that some offspring are still wholly dependent on their parents for up to 30 years.

Not only has the term of financial dependence increased, but parents need to be cognisant of the fact that they may well have reached retirement age before their children no longer need their financial assistance, Mr Feely said.

Due to these changes, parents need to structure the financial affairs including life assurance, pensions and savings for at least a 10-plus years extended timeframe, than those who were starting off their married life 30 years ago.

For a parent, the typical window of financial responsibility for their children has moved from 25 to 45 years of age to 30 to 55 or even 35 to 65 years of age.

This is a monumental change that should be given careful consideration when putting structures in place that will ensure financial security for a family for years to come.

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