□ 아동수당의 도입 등으로 육아가구에 대한 지원이 크게 확대되고 있는 상황에서 이러한 정책 환경의 변화가 실질적으로 육아 가구의 양육비용과 육아 소비지출에 어떠한 파급을 가져왔는지를 고찰해볼 필요성이 높음.
□ 1차년도 연구 결과 등에서도 잘 나타난 바와 같이 가구소득에 따른 양육비용격차가 크게 벌어지는 상황으로, 심층 분석 등을 통해 저소득 가구에 대한 적절한 지원 방안을 마련할 필요성이 있음.
□ 2차년도 조사에 접어들면서 영유아기에서 초등학령기로 진입한 자녀가 있는 육아 가구의 양육비용의 변화를 고찰해봄으로써, 육아 가구에 대한 적절한 지원 방안을 모색해보고자 함. This study represents the second wave of a 5-year research project on the spending of households with young children, including those on childrearing costs. In the present 2nd wave of the study, we looked at changes in the spending behavior of childrearing households attributable to the childcare allowance policy, which was introduced in late 2018 and subsequently expanded. We also gauged the views held by childrearing households regarding the policy shifts. Furthermore, by tracking the original sample collected in the 1st wave of the study, we measured the changes in childrearing costs as the children entered the first year of elementary school. Additionally, using data from the 1st wave of the study, we also conducted in-depth analysis of gaps in childrearing costs across different household income levels.
To these ends, the research methods employed in this study include literature review, the KICCE Spending Survey on childrearing households, in-depth analysis using data from the 1st wave of the KICCE Spending Survey, as well as consultation with experts.
The findings regarding the spending by childrearing households in 2019 are as follows. Firstly, the average monthly expenditure on living expenses among households with young children increased moderately from 3,119,000 KRW in the 1st wave to 3,326,000 KRW in the 2nd wave (2019). Secondly, there was also an increase in average monthly total childrearing costs, equal to 1,265,000 KRW as of the 2nd wave. Childrearing costs for young children equalled 926,000 KRW, and childrearing costs per young child equalled 660,000 KRW. Of the total childrearing costs, childrearing costs on young children, and childrearing costs per young child, the item that saw the highest expenditure was ‘education / childcare’, followed by ‘food expenses’ and ‘leisure / cultural activities’. Thirdly, compared to the 1st wave, the level and compositional share of childrearing costs for children transitioning to elementary education increased somewhat. For children transitioning to elementary education (born in 2012), the most important expenditure sub-item was ‘education / childcare’, followed by ‘food expenses (including dining out)’, ‘leisure and cultural activities (including entertainment costs)’, ‘insurance contributions’, and ‘clothing (including shoes)’. Fourthly, when asked about which expenditure sub-item they would prioritize in spending more if they were to have additional income, the greatest number of households chose ‘education / childcare’ costs (25.6% of respondent households), followed by ‘financial investments’ (25%), ‘debt payments’ (17.6%), ‘leisure / cultural activities’ (15.9%), and lastly, ‘food expenses’ (7.2%)
Regarding the major policy shift concurrent to the 2nd wave of the study – the expansion of assistance in the form of childcare allowances and tax benefits – the views expressed by childrearing households were as follows. Firstly, among recipients of childcare allowances, the greatest number of households spent the allowances on ‘food expenses’ (29.0%), followed by ‘education / childcare’ (24.1%), and ‘savings and financial investments’ (21.3%). How childcare allowances were spent varied substantially depending on household income levels. Among households with less than 3 mil. KRW in income, the most important component of spending was ‘food’ (45.0%), which was vastly higher compared to the next-important item (13.2%). Secondly, regarding the policy direction that childcare allowances should take, most respondents (58.4%) felt that current levels were suitable, while 39.1% of respondents called for expanded assistance and only 2.5% of respondents felt that cuts in assistance were needed. Thirdly, on the issue of graduating assistance levels depending on disadvantages regarding childrearing, 37.6% of respondents felt that assistance levels should be graduated. Regarding graduated assistance, the majority of respondents (60.7%) felt that low-income households needed additional support, followed by single-parent households (16.2%), households with multiple children (11.9%), and households where grandparents were the sole guardians (10.5%). Fourthly, only 22.0% of respondents were aware of changes in the tax code preventing the repeated receipt of child tax credits in cases where childcare allowances were already being provided for children of age 6 or less (born in 2013 or later). Fifthly, regarding the currently existing assistance policies that were most helpful for alleviating childrearing costs, households responded that childrearing cost assistance (1st) and assistance for early education costs (2nd), which had a combined share of 66.2%, were the most helpful, followed by childcare allowances (51.2%).
For the present 2nd wave of the study, we utilized the data from the 1st wave of the KICCE Spending Survey to conduct an in-depth analysis of how childrearing costs varied depending on household income levels. Firstly, looking at total (average) childrearing costs across household income quantiles adjusted for the number of children, the number of children and higher household income were clearly associated with higher spending on childrearing costs. Secondly, quantile regression estimates showed that the income elasticity of total spending on living expenses was positive across all quantiles. Thirdly, analysis for each expenditure item showed that, in the case of items such as food, clothing, and leisure / cultural activities, higher expenditure levels tended to be associated with an overall decrease in the elasticity of childrearing cost expenditure relative to household income. On the other hand, in the case of items such as medical / healthcare costs or education / childcare costs, higher expenditure levels were associated with higher household income elasticity, suggesting that there was a furthering of inequality regarding expenditure on these items. Fourth, conducting analysis by categorizing households into the lower 25%, lower 50%, higher 50%, and higher 25% percentiles in terms of household income, we found that the estimated household income elasticities were statistically significant and positively associated with income levels. Therefore, this suggested that gaps in childrearing spending for young children tended to widen along with parents’ income levels. Also, the household income elasticity of spending on education / childcare costs for young children was found to increase among higher-income households, while the opposite was observed in the case of spending on leisure / cultural activities for young children.
Based on the above findings, in this study we set forth the following recommendations. Firstly, although there exists a strong policy demand for universal cost assistance for childrearing households, a cautious approach is needed regarding the matter of expanding universal assistance until evidence on the efficacy of consistent policy becomes better-established. Secondly, in order to enhance social fairness, upward adjustments should be made on the eligibility for low-income household childrearing assistance. Also, there is a need to strengthen refund-type programs such as child tax credits. Thirdly, there is a need to consider gradually broadening the range of eligible ages for childcare allowances. Additionally, in order to alleviate the education / childcare cost burden for elementary school-age children, there is a need to support after-school programs that utilize local community infrastructure. Fourthly, there is a need to improve the quality of public education / childcare services. Fifthly, there should be a prudent restructuring of the cost assistance system for childrearing households. Finally, access to information should be improved in order to boost the visibility of the relevant policies.