UK family shrinks as cost of raising a child reaches £270,000

Article date: 21 February 2011

The UK family size could be set to shrink as the cost of bringing up a child spirals to more than £270,000.

New research from protection provider Aviva suggests that parents will spend £271,499 on each child up to the age of 21. As a result, two thirds (66%) of parents say they can’t afford to have more children - even if they want to - due to the impact of the family on their finances. In fact 58% of parents surveyed with only one child said they are not planning to have any more children.

The Aviva study suggests that some parents will spend, on average, more than £1,000 a month on each of their children.

The research, which was conducted to support Aviva’s latest life insurance advertising campaign, illustrates clearly the pressure families are under in today’s economic climate. While for many the cost of living is rising, more than half of families (51%) report their children are increasingly demanding expensive items, while a similar number feel the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ with the latest fads and trends.

Statistics show that the average family size has fallen over the last forty years from 2.0 to 1.7 dependent children per family unit. Even though “2.4 children” is often quoted as the average family size, this figure actually harks back to children of women born in 1937.

One child families have also become more common over the last few decades, accounting for 20% of two-parent families in Britain now, compared to 16% in 1972.

Louise Colley, head of protection marketing for Aviva says: “When we consider bringing up children, people often think about the big ticket items such as university fees or childcare. But it’s also the smaller things such as school trips and music lessons - plus essentials like food and clothes - that really build up the costs. Even for parents who budget very carefully the financial pressures are tremendous, and as Government benefits are being scaled back, more and more families are feeling the pinch.

“At Aviva we want to encourage every parent to make sure their family is financially protected in case the worst happens. If a family loses an income through illness - or even worse, death - by having protection in place it can ease the burden and help some of the ‘normal’ things continue for children, such as swimming lessons and the occasional day out. Having the right cover means that for the families affected, it’s one less thing to worry about at a particularly stressful time.”

Aviva offers life insurance from as little as £5 a month. To find out more visit or call 0800 0685549 for a quote.



Research was carried out by Opinion Matters for Aviva between 9 and 15 February 2011, interviewing 1000 parents with children under the age of 21. Further statistics have been supplied by the Office of National Statistics.

Case studies are available.

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Aviva Press Office: Sarah Poulter: 01904 452828 / 07800 691569:

Notes to editors:

Aviva is one of the world's largest insurance groups* with 53 million customers worldwide and 46,000 employees.

Aviva’s main activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion*.

In the UK, Aviva takes care of its 19.2 million customers by helping them look after their future, protecting what’s important – from their health to their homes, their cars to their business – and saving for the future.

Aviva has a 10.5%** share of the UK life and pensions market and insures one in six homes and one in ten cars in the UK. It is also one of the oldest UK insurers, with a heritage stretching back more than 300 years.

RAC, which is owned by Aviva, provides breakdown and insurance services for individuals and businesses and has around seven million customers.

Aviva is carbon neutral worldwide, and is ranked in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In the UK, Aviva invested £3.8 million into local communities in 2009. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva’s global Street to School programme is working in partnership with Railway Children in the UK to get children living on the streets back into education and everyday life. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes images, company and product information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

Follow us on twitter:

*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009

**Source: ABI data released August 2010

Back to top