Social Policy and Society


Individualisation in Couple Finances: Who Pays for the Children?

Jan Pahl a1
a1 School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent E-mail:

Article author query
pahl j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This article examines changing patterns of money management in the UK and elsewhere and argues that couples are becoming more individualised in their finances. It draws on quantitative and qualitative data and considers some of the implications of individualisation, in particular in terms of paying for children and childcare. The conclusion is that independent management of money may give both partners a sense of autonomy and personal freedom – so long as their incomes are broadly equivalent. However, if the woman's income drops, for example when children are born, while her outgoings increase, because she is expected to pay the costs of children, the situation may change. Individualisation in money management can then be a route to inequality, so long as women's earnings are lower than men's and women are responsible for paying for children and childcare.

(Published Online October 4 2005)