Ask the grumpies: More questions about childrens’ allowances

Leah asks:

Do you give your kids an allowance? How do you determine? Do you make them do chores, or can they do supplemental chores for more money? Is there any economic weight/research behind any one approach?

My kids each get an allowance.  They get 20 cents per year of age, which means the eldest gets $2.20 and the youngest gets $1.20.  These amounts are much smaller than the average, but the thought is to allow a little over a candy bar/week for the young one.  They have to do chores as members of the family and we do not currently have supplemental chores for them to do for money, though last summer I paid the eldest minimum wage to do some research assistance for me.

To my knowledge this is not a topic that economists have tackled in the top journals.  Here’s a couple of economic psychology articles that look a bit flawed, but this is probably a difficult topic to study.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/016748709190042R and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167487014000580 .  None of the articles that cite that first one look particularly relevant.

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7 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: More questions about childrens’ allowances”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    We have chores that are just part of living there like laundry, dishes, trash, making beds. Then we have chores that earn money. No formal allowance for the simple reason that I don’t always have exact change on me. Both my boys are mowing the lawn. We got a quote on how much it would cost to hire a guy and older son agreed he’d rather have the money. This is the first year younger son has a mowing job too and the two boys split up the yard. Mad the cash. They are 9 and 13. The younger gets paid less and has less lawn to mow so he can work up to doing more as he ages. It’s worked great. Both boys have their own bank accounts.

    When they were younger they had easier chores for money. Previous owner had dogs so they used to get $0.50 a bone they would find in the yard and throw out. $5 for a bucket of weeds. $5 for a tarp of leaves raked.

    We don’t make them buy necessities like clothes and shoes with their money though. We also fund books. Neither are big spenders so I hardly ever get a request to do extra stuff for money and often older son has a number he wants to hit and then wants to be done..like with leaves.

    I guess an allowance of sorts is our 5 gallon water bottle we fill with loose change.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

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  3. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I gave my son $1/month per year of age, until he went to college, at which time I switched to $150/month (in addition to paying tuition, fees, room, and board). When he leaves college (probably after his MS next March), I’ll discontinue the allowance.

    Chores were never part of the allowance deal—he was not motivated by money, and so making it look like he was paid to do something would have resulted in him not doing it and forgoing the income. (Think of the late fees for day care in Haifa, which resulted in more people being late, because the price was one that they were willing to pay.)

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:


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