Parents of teenage children in the UK are paying pocket money well below the European average, and are parting with less than half that of Italian and Austrian mums and dads.
The findings, based on a Ipsos survey of more than 12,000 people across Europe, found UK children start out life being lavished with money compared to their peers across the Channel but that this parental generosity appears to wane as they get older.
Children under the age of five receive on average £2 a week in the UK, compared with 80p in Spain and 40p in the Netherlands. The weekly piggy bank boost is only beaten by Italian parents who give a whopping £4 a week at this age.
Between five and 10, children in the UK fare better than all their European cousins, netting £5 a week. But something strange happens as those children enter high school: British parents, instead of countering the effects of inflation and peer pressure, instead leave their children with the same allowance of £5 a week until the age of 15.
This amount then increases to £9.50 – but by then it is too late for UK children to out-save (or spend) children the same age in mainland Europe. While UK parents put the brakes on pocket money increases at age 10, mums and dads in every other European country increase their offerings.
This happens again at age 10 and again at 15, with Austrian parents being the most generous. They give a typical £28 a week at this age – almost three times the amount given by British parents – while the Italians are doling out £24. Only parents in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic pay less than UK parents, at between £8.50 and £9.30 a week.
The economists at ING bank, which commissioned the findings, also asked parents about their pocket money when they were children and their savings habits now. It found that 55% of people who received pocket money regularly added to their savings, compared to 45% who didn’t.
However, UK parents may be doing their offspring a favour if, instead of giving money, are asking their children to earn it. Research presented to the Royal Economic Society last year by academics from Sheffield University concluded that children who are given pocket money are much less likely to save than those who have part-time work such as a paper round. It also found they may turn out to be less financially prudent as adults.
“Given the widespread concern that individuals are not saving enough, it is apparent that attitudes towards finances may be shaped at an early age,” said Sarah Brown and Karl Taylor, authors of that report. “Our findings indicate that shaping the financial behaviour of children may have long-lasting effects in terms of financial behaviour and decision-making as an adult.”