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Cost of Living Raising two children in Switzerland costs at least half a million francs

The moment children start compulsory education, which is free in Switzerland, can be a relief for some families, who may no longer have to pay for expensive childcare.

(Keystone / Laurent Gillieron)

In a rich country, having children can easily become a luxury. On average, direct costs associated with raising a child are CHF 1,200 to 1,800 per month and that’s not including some of the most expensive childcare in the world and indirect costs.

Love is priceless as the saying goes. But between guitar lessons, trips to Disneyland, and iphones, the costs quickly add up.

Even before the birth of their child, many parents don’t hesitate to spend thousands of francs on clothes, strollers, and child car seats to welcome their little one into the world.

Even without excessive consumerism, raising a child is expensive in Switzerland. But, how much does it cost exactly?

What are the basic direct costs of raising a child?

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There are two official data analyses on the subject that have been widely referenced. The first is called “The cost of children in Switzerlandexternal link” (in German), from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). The authors calculated that in 2009 the average cost of raising a child was CHF819 per month. For two children, the price tag amounted to CHF1,310 and rose to CHF1,583 for three children.

More detailed than the FSO, is the study of youthexternal link by the Zurich cantonal office, which is published each year and serves as a reference for various cantons on basic costs of living. It arrives at much higher costs for raising a child at about CHF1,200-1,800 per month depending on the child’s age.

What is a concrete example?

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For an only child of 10 years old, parents spend around CHF1,500 per month or CHF18,000 a year. The most expensive item on the list is housing at CHF560 per month, followed by food and leisure activities.

Costs of Children

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The arrival of a second child and then a third child allows families to take advantage of economies of scale (savings from 10 to 40% according to the family situation).

For the most common family model of two parents and two children, the total cost is estimated to be around CHF2,500 per month or CHF30,000 a year. Multiply that by 18, which is the age at which one is considered an adult in Switzerland, and that reaches a sum of CHF540,000.

What else should be considered?

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The calculation by the Zurich cantonal office doesn’t include one important expense: the cost of childcare. Swiss crèches (daycare centres) are among the most expensive in the world, according to a study by the OECD. Putting a child in a crèche three days a week can cost parents between CHF1,000 and CHF2,000 per month.

There are also indirect costs to consider. The arrival of a baby is often accompanied by a considerable scaling-back of paid work by one parent, which then leads to a lower family income. In Switzerland, this phenomenon primarily affects women: half of mothers work less than a 50% work week. The consequences can be felt even after the children have left home, as the time spent looking after them often has a negative impact on career development.

However, there are some subsidies or special benefits to help relieve pressure on some families: this includes family allowancesexternal link (at least CHF200 per child each month), tax deductions and reduction in health insurance premiums.

Are the costs the same for all families?

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No. There are many factors that influence the expenses dedicated to children. This includes the parents’ income, life choices, type of housing and proximity to grandparents. Raising a child in the countryside is also less expensive than in the city thanks in part to lower rents and close social networks.

Can having children lead families to fall into poverty?

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Yes, and it is particularly the case for single parents raising children on their own. Along with senior citizens, this demographic is the most at risk of falling into poverty. One single-parent familyexternal link out of six is in a precarious situation in Switzerland. According to the Federal Office of Statistics, the rate poverty and risk of poverty is also higher for families with three or more children compared to the rest of the population.

‘Generations survey’ Swiss people want more children than they’re having

Having children in Switzerland is often hampered by work prospects, with women particularly fearful of negative career consequences.

This content was published on November 4, 2019 11:29 AM

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