Putting a price on Kiwi grandparents
MONEY MATTERS firstname.lastname@example.org
Grandparents. You can’t put a price on them. One British insurer tried. It calculated that on average, on childcare costs alone, grandparents were worth £2000 (NZ$3890) a year to young, working couples with children.
But even that was a halfhearted attempt really.
That was the cost of childcare that the average British grandparents provided for young grandchildren every year.
It didn’t take any account of the impact on couple’s ability to maintain a high enough income to buy a house, and make headway on the mortgage.
And you’d be right to protest at reducing the value of grandparents to the monetary value of the childcare they provide.
You’d also be right to say that the British insurer’s estimate undervalued even that contribution.
The actual monetary value to parents is much wider. It includes the extra income, and career progression parents can make, for one thing.
In one sense grandparents’ childcare contributions are a positive, helping their families thrive. Grandparents are priceless Their impact on household finances is large
Family wealth passes down
In another, there’s an element of grandparents taking on unpaid work as a result of employers’ demands on individuals, and on our cost of living crisis (house prices, rent costs, food prices, rates, power prices, petrol prices, insurance premiums – all of which we pay over the odds for) driving two working parent households.
This is about grandparents helping their children survive.
At the very least it is them stepping in to prevent their grandchildren being placed in before and after school care every day.
Grandparents living with their children and grandchildren provide a kind of mutual support to each other.
Living on NZ Super alone isn’t particularly easy, so cohabitation helps both parties get by. And having someone to get the kids off to school and to be there to pick them up when you are doing a split shift cleaning offices from 5am-9am, and then from 4pm-10pm is handy.
Often it’s hard to find data supporting your observations at the school gate.
I see the before and after school care, and the grandparents doing the pick-ups, and I know some of the families.
But this is anecdotal evidence. In 2009, there was a bit of government research here that did provide a few insights.
In some parts of our society as many as a quarter to four-tenths of families include both a grandparent and a grandchild.
In all there were more grandparents living in homes with grandchildren than there were people in Gisborne, or Whanganui.
Some grandparents had put their interests on the backburner to help family, the research found.
As a society we tend to overlook the contributions of older people. We forget they are workers, volunteers, taxpayers, consumers and pass significant amounts of wealth on to the next generation.
Take the example of volunteer work done by the over 65s. The Office for Senior Citizens estimated it to have an economic value of their volunteering (based on the minimum wage) was $8.5 billion in 2011.
Take that away and there’d be a heap of work that would need somebody to pay for it.
Grandparents: Wanted by all. The rewards of having them are huge.