Local parents comment on who is more expensive to raise - girls or boys?

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Of course, every child, parent and family are different, however, each gender can present its own set of unique needs and therefore incur unique costs.
Of course, every child, parent and family are different, however, each gender can present its own set of unique needs and therefore incur unique costs.

I think many parents can agree that raising a child can burn quite a hole in your pockets.

The National Debt Advisors say research indicates that raising a child in South Africa costs R90 000 annually depending on the family's lifestyle. 

Considering the cost of tuition, clothes, food, medical expenses and unforeseen expenses, the numbers can start to pile up. But is it possible that it costs more to raise one gender than another?  

Of course, every child, parent and family are different, however, each gender can present its own set of unique needs and therefore incur unique costs. 

There have been multiple international surveys and studies that aimed to investigate whether there is a discrepancy in cost between girls and boys. 

A study of British families by Love Money found that girls have more expensive hobbies, toiletries, clothes and accessories, making them more expensive to raise.  It has also been found that girls' items have an added "pink tax", a gender-based pricing phenomenon that explains why certain products cost more for females than they do for males. 

And while boys and girls can be equally rambunctious, boys have been found to have more risk-taking behaviour, resulting in more damages and medical expenses.  

Also read: Do boys and girls learn differently? The debate continues

'I would incur more expenses for her'

News24 spoke to parents who have raised both girls and boys to understand what their personal perspectives are on the matter, and it seems that parents have differing opinions based on the personalities of their children.  

Ntsiki Sigege, who has raised two boys and one girl (now all in their twenties), found that compared to her brothers, her daughter was more social, and therefore it cost more to send her on excursions and to events.

Her daughter was also more expensive due to additional toiletry needs, make-up and clothing. Sigege also noted that her sons had fewer clothing demands and were easy-going in terms of spending.   

"When it comes to make-up, clothing and other stuff, I would incur more expenses for her," says Sigege.  "I always found it easy to manage [the boys], because they'll just wear clothes from wherever. And they didn't spend much on going out."

"It was much easier to handle boys when it comes to finances." 

The study by Love Money echoed this sentiment, stating that girls spend more money on activities and hobbies. Hobbies like dancing or gymnastics can be more expensive than the typical boy interests of football or karate. 

'Her interests were very evolving'

Another mother who agrees with this statement is Unathi Mbadamana who says that the bulk of her son's expenses was health-related. 

When it came to entertainment, Mbadamana says that her son was as entertained by a soccer ball and a bicycle as he was by gaming systems – expenses that were few and far between. 

Meanwhile, Mbadamana's daughter's interests changed often which meant that there were times when Mbadamana would buy a new doll for her daughter every week and she would still grow tired of it, despite having asked for it.

"Her interests were very evolving and quick. You'll buy this and realise that she'd no longer be into it and want something else. Even with entertainment. [My daughter] would want to go to restaurants, she'd want to play arcade games," says Mbadamana. 

Though Mbadamana admitted that her son usually wanted more expensive gifts, her son's demands were "sustainable" and scarce, making her daughter more expensive to raise. 

Also see: OPINION | The importance of gender equality awareness among boys and girls

'He eats a lot'

However, not all parents have the same experience. 

Asanda Dubula, who has a six-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, says that her son has been more of an expense than her daughter, mostly due to his inclination for mischief that results in more damages.

"There wasn't a lot of damages with [my daughter]. [My daughter] was a quiet child. She didn't experiment a lot," says the mother of two as she recalled an incident where the young boy had kicked a wardrobe and broken it. 

Dubula also says that, due to her son's fast rate of growth and insatiable appetite, she finds herself spending a considerable amount on shoes, clothes and food. 

"[My son] is expensive," says Dubula. "He grows fast as well. You'd think buying those shoes that are going to last some time will be enough, only to find that he grows out of them within two months." 

"It's clothing, it's food - he eats a lot - and then it's damage control because of his experimenting," says Dubula. "He cost me more." 

Ultimately, it is appears more likely that expenses for boys are larger but occasional, while girls tend to have needs that require more regular purchases of items. 

Of course, these experiences aren't true for every family. Let us know what your experience of raising boys and girls has been...


Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.