How much does it cost to raise a child in Spain?

How big is the financial commitment parents have to make in Spain to pay for their offspring’s needs and expenses until they’re grown up and independent? 

How much does it cost to raise a child in Spain?
It's €90,000 more expensive to raise a child in Spain than it was 20 years ago.(Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

Anyone who’s familiar with how Spanish society works will know that in most cases families are close-knit and young Spaniards tend to leave the nest later than their European counterparts. 

So it’s no surprise that a study conducted by the German savings platform Raisin has revealed that raising a son or daughter in Spain until their emancipation costs an average €300,000 for parents.

That figure represents around €90,000 more than two decades ago.

It’s €8,000 more expensive for parents who have a son rather than a daughter, as women in Spain tend to become independent earlier (28.8 years old compared to 30.7 years for men).

What does the money get spent on? 

In the case of a male child, feeding him until emancipation amounts to €121,605 on average; education adds up to €38,316; clothing and footwear costs €32,729; celebrations such as baptisms, communions or birthdays amount to €27,815; health expenses come to €19,119; pocket money adds up to €12,480; hygiene expenses average €8,426, and €48,887 are splashed out on travel costs.

The money that goes towards covering a baby’s first year of life has increased from €7,254 in 2002 to €10,610 in 2022, which represents 38 percent of the salary of a father and 40 percent of the mother.

To support a child during the first year, Raisin’s study found that a man with an average net monthly salary of €2,315 would have to save 5 percent of his wages for seven years and eight months; and a woman with an average salary of €2,182 would need eight years and two months, six months more.

By the time their son or daughter has turned 24, the cost to parents is reduced by half to an average of €4,594 a year.

The report, titled ‘The cost of having a child in Spain’, found that having a baby continues to have a negative impact on a woman’s employment opportunities, even though this is improving gradually.

So how does the cost of raising a child in Spain compare to that in other European countries? 

It depends on the study, the help available to parents, the costs of living in each country, whether they’ve factored in rising inflation in 2022 and many other factors particular to each set of parents.

In the UK for example, different studies have found the cost of raising a child until the age of 18 was anywhere between £160,000 and £230,000. In France, it was around the €150,000 to €180,000 in 2020.

But in Spain, where around 65 percent of young people aged 25 to 29 live at home with mum and dad, in large part as a result of the poor wages/work opportunities available to them and higher living costs, it’s no surprise that parents continue to help their children financially until a later age.

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Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.