How much is a stay-at-home parent worth?

Survey finds Irish underestimate cost of stay-at-home parenting

They wash bottles, clean houses, cook dinners, pack lunches and ferry children to piano, soccer and ballet. And yet Irish people still underestimate how much it would cost to replace a stay-at-home parent.

In a survey of some 1,000 Irish people, almost three quarters put the cost of all the work a parent who doesn’t work outside the home at €20,000-€30,000 a year.

Estimates from insurance group Royal London, however, say the cost is closer to about €42,000 a year, when all the activities for which a parent in the home is responsible are factored in.

"Royal London's calculations revealed that the cost to employ someone to do the household jobs normally done by a stay-at-home parent would be at least €42,000 or more. This is over a third more than what the majority of the Irish public think it costs. Encouragingly, however, 29 per cent of respondents said they thought it would be €40,000 or higher," said Joe Charles from Royal London.


For example, the average cost of a childminder is €9 an hour. One would pay €12 hour for a handyman/woman, €10 for a cook and €9 an hour for a cleaner.

The survey shows that men are more likely than women to put a lower value on the role of a house wife/husband, with some 24 per cent suggesting that the cost of this would be more than €40,000 a year, compared with 35 per cent of women.

The survey also points to a distinction in how people of a certain age value the role, with 13 per cent of the 18-34 age group putting a value of €10,000 on the role, compared with just 7 per cent of the over-55s. Similarly, 37 per cent of the over-55s – many of whom may have fulfilled the role themselves, given demographics – put an annual cost of €40,000 or more, compared with 22 per cent of 18-34-year-olds.

More men staying at home

Traditionally a role fulfilled by women, Central Statistics Office figures show that more and more men are giving up their suits for a life in the home.

In 1986, for example, some 653,398 women classed their economic status as “looking after home/family”, with just 445 men staying at home. Fast forward to 2011, however, the year of the most recent figures, and the number of women has shrunk by 48 per cent to 339,918, while the number of men minding the home has soared to 18,040. And it’s likely that this figure will continue to rise.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times