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Stay-at-home parents are providing services worth €54,590, says study

More than nine in 10 people sharply undervalue what it would cost to care for home and family in absence of home-based parent

Paying someone to do the work of a stay-at-home parent would cost €54,590, according to research by Royal London Ireland, which found that most people continue to vastly underestimate its value.

Fewer than one in 10 of those put a value of more than €50,000 on the unpaid work done by a parent in the home. The average among 1,000 people surveyed on the subject was €30,547. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Royal London said women were three times more likely to guess the correct figure than men.

A fifth of those questioned guessed that the work a stay-at-home parent does was worth less than €20,000 a year, while another 29 per cent said it was worth less than €30,000.

Totting up the costs involved, Royal London cited childcare as the biggest financial burden undertaken by a parent in the home. Paying externally for this would cost just shy of €374 a week, it said.


Other significant costs were the stay-at-home parent’s role as taxi driver (valued at €254 a week) and general cook (€181.50 a week).

Cleaning (€86.80), acting as a teaching assistant with homework (€70), work as handyman or woman around the house (€66.72) and gardener (€17) were other weekly costs assessed in the study.

Royal London said that, on a weekly basis, these costs added up to €1,049.82.

“While the role of the stay-at-home parent is often described as ‘priceless’, it is interesting to see how some people can misconceive the role of a stay-at-home parent and the financial cost,” Karen O’Flaherty, propositions executive at Royal London Ireland said.

The interest for Royal London in highlighting the cost of stay-at-home parenting is that such people are rarely considered when families assess their need for life insurance cover to provide some financial security in the event of accident or death.

“It’s understandable that, without doing the calculations, many people, particularly those without children, may not accurately estimate what the cost would be to replace the stay-at-home parent,” Ms O’Flaherty said. “An accurate evaluation of this cost, from a financial planning perspective, is an important figure to contemplate by every family.

“If something were to happen to a stay-at-home parent, stopping them from being able to carry out this vital role, or if they were to pass away unexpectedly, their loved ones could be left with a large financial gap to fill during what would already be a very difficult time. And while money can never replace a parent, having adequate financial protection in place can help provide families with a financial safety net to meet some of these parenting costs.”

Data from Census 2022 show that the number of women looking after the family home is falling – from 653,398 in 1986 to 244,823 in 2022. Over the same period, the number of men who are stay-at-home parents has jumped from 445 to 27,495.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times