The little people with big pockets

Children’s pocket money is rising, although income from part-time jobs has fallen. And while they still like to spend cash on sweets, they are increasingly paying to look good

Children in the UK are richer than ever, thanks to increases in the amount of pocket money they receive, according to new data from BMRB International’s Youth TGI survey.

The survey shows that the level of pocket money received by children aged between seven and 14 years old has increased over the past two years. The number of seven- to ten-year-olds getting &£7 or more a week has doubled since 2002. The number who receive between &£5 and &£6.99 has also risen, by 37 per cent.

The increases are skewed towards younger children: 11- to 14-year-olds have seen pocket money increases, but they are not as dramatic as those given to their younger counterparts. The number of children who receive &£15 or more each week has risen by a mere three per cent but the number of children who receive between &£10 and &£14.99 has increased by a significant 22 per cent.

There has been a steady increase in the percentage of children receiving &£5 or more every week. Indeed, the survey shows that 78 per cent of 14-year-olds receive at least &£5 each week. This has risen by six per cent over the past two years. This increase is attributable to a variety of factors, notably the growing affluence of the population in general and a greater willingness among parents and grandparents to give children money.

However, the survey also shows that parental pocket-money contribution is in decline. In the seven- to ten-year-old group, there has been an eight per cent decrease in the number of children receiving pocket money from their parents; and among 11- to 14-year-olds, there has been a six per cent fall. This decrease has been offset by a 24 per cent increase in the number of children receiving pocket money from their grandparents.

The data also shows that many of those parents who are providing their children with pocket money are making them work for it, by doing odd jobs and chores. Since 2002, there has been 16 per cent rise in the number of seven- to ten-year-olds working for their allowance. This rise in paid work around the family home coincides with a decrease in the number of 11- to 14-year-olds who have a regular part-time job outside the home, perhaps owing to parents’ unwillingness to allow their child to work outside the home.

The TGI Youth data shows that there are significant differences between age-groups when it come to saving. The 11- to 14-year-old group shows an increased awareness of the need to save. In 1994, 53 per cent of 11- to 14-year-olds saved some of their money: this has now risen to 64 per cent. However, the number of seven- to ten-year-olds saving money has dropped by 19 per cent over the same period.

Across the whole age range, girls are marginally better at saving than boys. Girls aged between seven and ten years old are ten per cent more likely to agree that they like saving money than boys of the same age. Girls in the older age bracket, meanwhile, are four per cent more likely to save than their male counterparts – although the boys are 12 per cent more likely to claim that they like saving.

In terms of how children’s money is spent, crisps, sweets and chocolate continue to dominate – though more so among older children, with toys and games taking a larger share of income in the younger age bracket.

Over the past ten years, there has been a major increase in children’s purchases of toiletries and cosmetics, particularly among the younger age group. There has been a 94 per cent increase in the number of girls aged between seven and ten buying these products – and the number of young boys buying toiletries and cosmetics has risen by 78 per cent. A smaller rise has been seen among 11- to 14-year-olds, with the number of girls buying cosmetics and toiletries up by six per cent and the number of boys up by a significant 17 per cent.

There has been a noticeable shift in attitudes about image over the past ten years, with the number of girls agreeing that it is important to look attractive to the opposite sex doubling in that time. The number of boys who agree that it is important to be attractive to girls has grown from 43 per cent to 55 per cent over the decade.

The survey shows that there have been changes in children’s income-levels, but it also suggests that evolving social attitudes are altering what children are spending their money on and that this is likely to continue. This could mean that issues such as obesity will lead children to move away from spending on snacking products, perhaps in favour of cosmetics and clothes.

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