Comparing Private Investments in Children across 3 Liberal Welfare States: Australia, Canada, and the United States, 1970-2007

Sabino Kornrich, The University of Sydney
Anne H. Gauthier, University of Calgary

Parents invest in the development of children’s future potential through time spent with, and expenditures on, their offspring. While there is growing evidence that investments in time with children have intensified over the last third of the twentieth century in a variety of countries, there is much less evidence about private household expenditure. Because investment in children begins earlier, lasts longer, and is more intense, the consequences of reliance on private households to provide investment are quite important. This paper provides a first step toward understanding spending. We compare spending over time in the United States with two other countries with liberal welfare states: Australia and Canada. Using data from expenditure surveys from each country, we track spending on goods targeted for or used on children from the 1970s to the present day, asking how levels of spending and their determinants have changed over time.

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Presented in Session 88: A Comparative Perspective on Family Policies