Put­ting a price on Kiwi grand­par­ents

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - BACKYARD BANTER -

ROB STOCK

MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

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.

123RF

Grand­par­ents: Wanted by all. The re­wards of hav­ing them are huge.

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