Kids are expensive, but while conventional wisdom usually suggests that they’ll cost the most when they’re small, a new survey is suggesting that isn’t exactly true. In actuality, most parents say quite the opposite, as the survey found that parents actually spend way more money on their adult children than they do on babies.
The study found that every year American parents spend around $500 billion on their adult children between 18 and 34 years old. They drew this conclusion by breaking up a person’s life into three phases: infant/toddler; elementary/high schooler; and adult. Then they surveyed 2,500 parents and 500 teens and found that only 11 percent of parents said they spent the most on their child as a baby.
Conversely, 44 percent of parents said that the elementary and high school phase what the most costly, and 45 percent said that the adult phase was the most expensive. While that does feel a bit like splitting hairs, on paper, the cost of raising a teen versus paying for an adult looks a lot more daunting. Over 65 percent of parents reported saying that they feel pressure to give their own kids the same things that their friends have during their teenage years. That can mean stuff like paying for a cell phone or a car.
“It’s a $500 billion hidden economy,” said Ken Dychtwald, the CEO and founder of Age Wave. “I started to think this is almost a trade imbalance between parents and kids. Perhaps some can afford to be this generous, but some can’t.”
When it comes to adult children, parents aren’t just paying for cars and cell phones, but college tuition, weddings, and groceries as well. Unfortunately, while this is very understandable phenomena, most parts do it at a high personal cost. Over 70 percent of parents said that they put their children’s interests ahead of their own, and over 60 percent said it has caused them to sacrifice their own security.