How Much Does Having Kids Pay Off Once You Get Old?

How Much Does Having Kids Pay Off Once You Get Old?

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito/Flickr

I know what you’re thinking, and I agree, so let’s just get this out of the way: “Having someone to take care of you when you get old” is a terrible reason to bear children. But since you may currently be in the trenches of wiping the bottom of a person who keeps calling you Squishy Belly Mummy and wondering, “So when is this whole parenting thing supposed to pay off again,” let’s look at some numbers, shall we?

As reported by Bloomberg, the RAND Center for the Study of Ageing has actually quantified the value that children (especially daughters) bring to parents who must one day face the dreaded reality of staying in a nursing home. It’s significant. Their study found that in terms of out-of-pocket costs, a non-parent would need to put aside an average of about $US8,900 (~$11,584) at age 57, compared to about $US6,400 (~$8,330) for a parent. Those with daughters see their costs reduced even more.

That’s because Americans who need nursing home care tend to stay in the facilities for a greater amount of time if they do not have kids — according to the data, non-parents are there for an average of 279 days over a lifetime, compared to a parent’s 233. For parents of four or more kids, the average stay drops to 206 days. See the full chart here. (Note that the averages are skewed by some extremely long stays for a small percentage of the population.)

“Having children doesn’t affect the odds of having a nursing home stay, but kids tend to delay the entry of a parent into a nursing home or help a parent transition out of one faster,” Suzanne Woolley of Bloomberg explains.

There are no guarantees to this financial perk, if you can even call it that, considering that it costs $US233,610 (~$304,053) to raise a child. Of course, you can’t put a monetary value on the love and joy that children bring, although I do plan to show my kid all the receipts for her doll collection when I get my retirement home bill.

This Is How Much Your Kids Are Worth [Bloomberg]


    • According to in Australia the basic daily fee for nursing home care is $50 a day. So for the specified 279 days, $13K.

  • This article is oddly phrased – do USA citizens really only live for a single year in a retirement home?

    As written, all I need at age 57 is $US8,900. Not “per year” just a blanket value. People like me will get an average of 279 days, at the end of which I’m thrown out (or executed).

    Having kids would apparently help me “transition out faster” – does the retirement home kick out residents who can’t take care of themselves, foisting them on untrained, unqualified family? Or is a family member expected to drop by, and knock me off?

    If American nursing homes really don’t have facilities for advanced care, AND if they charge per day – but give a discount when your kids take you out on a day trip, then things make a little more sense. Assuming 33 years in care (from age 57 to 90), and ignoring advanced care, the single person will need $US293,700 while a parent will need $US211,200. That’s a $US82,500 potential saving for a $US233,610 investment.

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