New book blames 'expense fears' for one-child families

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Parents with one child are being put off expanding their family because of 'exaggerated' warnings about the costs, according to a new book published by think tank Civitas.


The book, ‘Sticking up for siblings: who’s deciding the size of Britain’s families?’, says that single-child parents are increasingly being dissuaded from having another child by ‘over-blown’ claims about the financial implications.

Written by father-of-six Colin Brazier (pictured) and Swedish researcher Therese Wallin, the book seeks to ensure that parents who would like another child are aware of the advantages and more ‘circumspect’ about ‘PR-driven scare stories’ about the expense.

It also ‘debunks’ some of the myths that it says dissuades couples from expanding their family, as well as demonstrating the hidden advantages of a ‘multi-child’ family.

Colin Brazier, a Sky News presenter, said, ‘Having a second child will not save a couple money, but it need not be as ruinous as the financial services sector suggests. Annually, there is not a merry-go-round of media releases from banks, building societies and insurers, aimed at putting a figure on the cost of children.

‘But these figures frequently tell only half a story. They fail to take account of the economies of scale produced by siblings, the handed-down buggies, clothes and cots, the shared holidays, heating and bathwater.’

The book goes on to draw on a host of international data that demonstrates the benefits to children of having siblings. According to the research, children with siblings tend to be healthier, happier and better rounded.

Author Colin Brazier also draws on his experience as a foreign correspondent and a father to a large family to consider attitudes to siblings abroad and how they are evolving in the UK.

The book concludes by posing questions for policy-makers, such as ‘Is the valuable role played by siblings in eldercare factored into the welfare debate? Will an economy with fewer creative middle children be as competitive?’

Mr Brazier added, ‘Children without siblings are almost twice as commonplace as they were a generation ago. The reasons are obvious, costly childcare, career disruption, the price of an extra bedroom. Our only sibling subsidy, child benefit, has been slashed.

‘It’s little wonder that more than half of couples with an only child say they cannot afford another. Better to channel those scare parental resources into one high achiever.

‘But as the fashion for the one child family catches on, is there a cost for parents, society and children themselves? Are siblings the real child benefit we have forgotten to count.’

On Monday, the Child poverty Action Group published research, which showed that the cost of raising a child has risen by 4 per cent in a year.

  • 'Sticking up for siblings: who's deciding the size of Britain's families' is available to buy from Amazon.
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