Make Pocket Money Equal

It’s time to Make Pocket Money Equal

By Professor Tim Jay

Professor Tim Jay

Tim Jay is the Professor of Psychology of Education Loughborough University and led the Make Pocket Money Equal study

Financial literacy is an essential life skill that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advises children to learn as early as possible.1

Because financial literacy isn’t on the curriculum in primary schools in England, childrens’ financial education often begins at home, whether that’s with parents, family members or friends. It could be through talking to children about how money works, giving children pocket money of their own, or children watching adults around them do the weekly foodshop and manage household bills.

As financial education isn’t standardised from a young age, the learning experience that children receive can differ greatly. What if this disproportionately affects their attitudes and money management skills throughout their lives?

Starling Bank wanted to explore this question further and enlisted the help of Loughborough University. Together, we spoke to more than 4,000 parents to understand how financial education differs for children and whether this affects the development of their financial literacy skills.

The Play Gap

We discovered that children are off to an unequal start when it comes to money, with the biggest differences systemically occurring between boys and girls.

According to our research, boys earn 20% more pocket money than girls, with boys earning £3.00 a week on average compared to girls’ £2.50. In addition to this, products marketed at girls cost 5% more.

This combination of lower pay and higher prices results in reduced purchasing power for girls. We’re calling this ‘The Play Gap’ – a precursor to the Gender Pay Gap many of us have heard of and experienced in adulthood.

This combination of lower pay and higher prices results in reduced purchasing power for girls.

Our research discovered more instances of gender inequality beyond the amount of pocket money given. The Play Gap is present in how pocket money is paid, with boys more likely to receive their pocket money digitally while girls receive cash.

The Play Gap is also evident in how children earn their pocket money; girls are frequently rewarded for good behaviour and doing chores, boys get pocket money by simply asking for it and doing well at school. When it comes to chores, those given to boys and girls fall into classic stereotypes, with boys more likely to do gardening and wash the car while girls are more likely to be paid for cooking and cleaning.

Parents also hold different responsibilities for educating their children about money. Women and mothers are more likely to take charge of their kid’s financial literacy development, despite reporting more negative experiences of their own financial education as a child than the fathers surveyed.

These inequalities combine to create an issue much greater than the sum of its parts. The Play Gap fundamentally inscribes a greater sense of value upon boys from an early age. Is it any wonder that the Gender Pay Gap exists?

What we’re doing about this

While this is not a value that parents are intentionally pushing, we believe that parents need to know about these inequalities, so that together we can Make Pocket Money Equal.

If we can Make Pocket Money Equal; ensure girls and boys receive equal amounts and they’re given in the same form, for the same reasons; and experience a balanced financial education at home, then we can ensure girls and boys are beginning from the same starting line.

An equal start is essential if we want to dismantle the status quo girls will encounter throughout their lives. That’s why Starling Bank has created an online knowledge hub for parents and children, that arms them with the knowledge of the financial inequalities that exist now, so that children can benefit from an equal financial education at home.

An equal start is essential if we want to dismantle the status quo girls will encounter throughout their lives.

You’ll find practical guidance devised from our study, as well as helpful tips and advice from family writers, education experts and parents themselves.

So, if you want to Make Pocket Money Equal, head over to the advice hub to get started.

We’re on a mission to Make Pocket Money Equal. Find out more.