The Transfer Cost of Parenthood in Europe

Robert Ivan Gal, Marton Medgyesi, Pieter Vanhuysse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper compares the net resource transfer burdens of working-age parents and non-parents for fourteen European countries. We advance National Transfer Accounts methodology by splitting up macro-aggregates into three groups: parents, non-parents living in childless households and non-parents cohabiting with children. We estimate all cash, in-kind, and time transfers of the market economy and the household economy, irrespective of whether they are transmitted through public or familial channels. We find that on average, parents contribute almost twice as many net transfers as non-parents. Non-parents contribute almost exclusively to public transfers. Parents provide, in addition to public transfers, a still larger amount of familial transfers. Over the 38 years during which Europeans on average are net contributors of intergenerational resources, parents contribute 14.6 years of prime-age earnings, and non-parents’ 7.7 years. This asymmetric transfer burden carries multiple implications for debates on public policy and a just society.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 7. Sep 2020


  • public policy
  • parental investment
  • cost of children
  • human capital
  • social investment
  • equity in policy

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