Skip to main content


The gender pay gap starts early: girls get less pocket money and pay higher prices than boys

19th October 2022

  • Girls get 20% less pocket money than boys, yet pay 5% more for toys

  • Starling Bank’s Make Pocket Money Equal campaign highlights pocket money and financial literacy inequalities

  • The Play Gap Toy Shop opens to mark Equal Pocket Money Day (19th October 2022), when girls stop earning pocket money

19 October 2022: Girls receive less pocket money than boys and pay higher prices for toys and games, a new study from Starling Bank and Loughborough University reveals(1).

According to the study of more than 4,000 parents, boys receive, on average, 20% more pocket money than girls (£3.00 vs. £2.50 per week), making them £26 better off a year. An audit of 450 toys, games and books also reveals that items promoted to girls cost 5% more than those for boys on average (£10.00 vs £9.48), reducing girls’ purchasing power even further.

The findings are being released to highlight Equal Pocket Money Day (#MakePocketMoneyEqual), which lands on Wednesday 19th October(2). On this day, girls effectively stop earning pocket money relative to boys because of the pocket money pay gap.

Starling brought this inequality to life by creating The Play Gap Toy Shop, where everything is priced higher for girls. A video echoes what parents are seeing in-store and online, with a quarter (24%) noticing that products marketed at girls are more expensive than those for boys.

The gap in earning and learning

The study discovered that pocket money isn’t earnt equally. Boys are more likely than girls to have their pocket money linked to how much they ask for, with 8% more boys doing so. Boys are also more likely to have their pocket money assessed via academic performance (14% more boys are assessed this way). Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to receive pocket money if they have completed their chores (12%), and are more likely to be rewarded for good behaviour (6%).

When it comes to chores, the study again revealed that the household economy replicates the gender tropes seen within adulthood. Girls are much more likely to be paid for chores that relate to traditional ‘home making’ such as cooking (which 14% more girls are rewarded for than boys) followed by washing the dishes (13%), cleaning the bathroom (11%) and dusting (11%).

Chores that take place outdoors such as doing the gardening and washing the car are more evenly split between children, but boys do edge ahead slightly in being rewarded for these chores by 4% and 2%, respectively.

Parents also take different approaches to paying pocket money and teaching girls and boys about it. Boys are more likely to have their pocket money paid digitally, with 8% more doing so than girls, and 11% more boys are spoken to about money on a daily basis, which can elevate their financial literacy skills.

To help parents navigate the world of pocket money, Starling has launched its Make Pocket Money Equal online hub full of tips and expert advice from Tim Jay, Professor of Psychology of Education at University of Loughborough; Karen McGuigan, The Maths Mum; plus specialist parenting bloggers Louise Burke, Cathy Reay and Kate Carter.

Tim Jay, Professor of Psychology of Education, University of Loughborough comments:“The Gender Pay Gap starts early, with differences in how girls and boys earn and learn about pocket money. As girls are starting off on the back foot, this will have a long-term impact on how they align money with the value of their work. Is it any wonder that the pay gap exists later in life? The differences in girls’ and boys’ earliest exposures to money is not something that parents are intentionally enabling, so we firmly believe that with the right knowledge and resources, such as those launched today by Starling Bank, parents can help close this gap.”

Helen Bierton, Starling Bank’s Chief Banking Officer and family finance expert adds: “Financial literacy is an essential life skill that often begins at home. It’s important to start teaching children about money from an early age. You don’t need to sit them down and teach them about APR and interest rates. Involving them in everyday conversations about the household budget or the weekly food shop has been proven to boost children’s understanding. The Make Pocket Money Equal hub provides parents with lots of pocket money inspiration and guidance without having to spend a penny.”

Pocket money skills

The main motivation for giving pocket money to children is to develop money management skills such as budgeting and saving, for 39% of parents. The study found children who receive regular pocket money, no matter the amount, have financial literacy scores around 25% higher than children of the parents who said that they did not give their children regular pocket money.

A fifth (21%) of parents said that they don’t know what to teach their child about money, while 20% lack confidence in their own ability to educate their child on this topic.

How to close The Play Gap

  1. Tim Jay, Professor of Psychology of Education, University of Loughborough provides his advice on how parents can ensure they are treating boys and girls fairly when it comes to pocket money.

  2. Talk to other parents about ways that pocket money works in different households. You don’t necessarily need to do the same thing as other parents, but it can be useful to know how other households manage pocket money. Children talk to one another and will be comparing themselves against each other. They may also pester for more money with claims about how much their peers receive.

  3. Agree a pocket money strategy among all caregivers. This means agreeing the amounts of money your children are given as pocket money with everyone who may treat them, such as another parent, grandparents and other family members.

  4. If children are rewarded for chores or for good behaviour, make sure to communicate clear and consistent targets so that children understand what they are aiming for. Make sure to have a way to record children’s progression towards any target, such as using a sticker chart. Children can really benefit from the experience of planning to reach a goal and tracking their progress. Therefore talking to children about their plans and supporting them to reflect on their decisions will help them learn about managing money effectively.

  5. If you have more than one child of a similar age, try to ensure treats are of similar value. If some children are older, make sure that the increased amount you are giving them is proportionate and fair. Use treat-giving as an opportunity to discuss how much items cost, which can be particularly beneficial during the current financial climate.

  6. Remember that different products are often marketed to girls and boys and at different prices. Talk to your children about how advertising and packaging is designed to influence how they spend their pocket money.If you can help them understand that products may not always be as exciting or as fun as they are made to look in adverts, and that they don’t have to buy products that are targeted at a certain gender, you can help them to become more thoughtful consumers.

Notes to editors

1 Starling Bank commissioned a study led by Tim Jay, Professor of Psychology of Education, Centre for Mathematical Cognition at Loughborough University. The study surveyed 2,000 parents of children aged 4-11 years old in England. Parents were recruited to the survey via primary schools. Schools were selected at random to provide a representative sample across England, and head teachers were asked to distribute a link to an online survey to all parents of children in the school. 2,089 parents completed the survey in total in Q1 2022.

The survey was designed to explore the kinds of things that parents are doing to help their children learn about money and finance, what attitudes parents have towards children’s financial education, and what barriers and challenges parents experience in helping their children learn about money and finance.

A separate omnibus research survey was commissioned by Starling Bank of a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents in July 2022 and conducted by Censuswide.

In addition, the cost of 450 children’s toys, games and books have been audited online by Starling bank from six sources, including Google Ad Words, The Entertainer, Very, Wicked Uncle, Littlewoods and Hamleys. These sources were chosen as the websites enabled users to search for ‘girls toys’ and ‘boys toys’. The audit took place between 25th May 2022 - 1st June 2022.

The items audited were aimed at 4 - 11 year olds and are available to buy in the UK. For each of the six sources, the term ‘girls toy’, ‘boys toys’ and ‘gender-neutral toys’ were input into the online search facility and the results were sorted from lowest-price first. The full price of the items were audited. As a result, this method demonstrates the difference in prices for toys marketed for girls and boys.

2 As there is a 20% pocket money pay gap between girls and boys, girls stop earning pocket money 80% of the way through the year, on 19th October 2022.

The sample size of non-binary and transgender children surveyed in this study was not large enough to be considered nationally representative. Starling Bank hopes to understand more about them in future work.

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award-winning, fully-licensed and regulated bank built to give people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past. It offers personal, business, joint, euro and dollar current accounts alongside a children’s card. Starling also provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) proposition through its subsidiary Engine, using the proprietary technology platform that it uses to power its own bank. The Starling Marketplace offers customers in-app access to a selection of third party financial services. Headquartered in London, the bank has offices in Southampton and Cardiff. Contact details

Contact details

Grace Wilson, PR Manager
+44 7506 402635

Apply for a Starling bank account today and enjoy app-based banking at its best.

Start your application