The impact of the gender pocket money gap

by Nov 9, 2023

The gender pocket money gap

It seems we might have a gender pocket money gap. Does this set the scene for the gender pay gap?


Many parents wonder whether to give their kids pocket money. To our U.S friends an allowance.  Research suggests that children who receive regular pocket money from their parents become familiar at an early age with handling money. This results in them having a 25% higher financial literacy score than those who didn’t.

But a shocking downside of this is the existence of the gender pocket money gap

Gender pay gap starts in the home

A recent study from Starling Bank highlights another element on the gender imbalance continuum. The gender pay gap it seems may start with the gender pocket money gap. Not a big deal you might think  – but really it is.

This research has uncovered an astonishing gender inequality for young girls which surely contributes to gender pay differentials in later years. The findings show that girls are likely to receive 20% less pocket money than boys.


The findings reveal that from a young age, parents pay out pocket money along classic stereotypical lines. They reward boys for academic achievement or manual chores such as car washing or gardening and also because boys also ask for it. Girls are 14% more likely to receive pocket money for traditional housework chores such as cooking and washing the dishes, as well as good behaviour. This is clearly down to the gendered household roles of the parents.

Tim Jay, Professor of Psychology of Education, University of Nottingham, who participated in the study says: ‘The Gender Pay Gap starts early. 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.’

Reseach from U.B.S in Switzerland indicates  that “girls in Switzerland don’t get a lower allowance than boys. But on closer inspection, we see there certainly are differences.

When girls are given an allowance, they even get a little more – especially between the ages of 9 and 13. But girls do start receiving one later than boys. The survey revealed that boys born second start getting pocket money earlier than girls born second. Curiously, first-borns usually start receiving money around the same age, regardless of gender”

Parental responsibilities

Starling’s Chief Banking Officer and family finance expert Helen Bierton suggests that about 10% of parents talk to boys about money in childhood, which encourages them to develop good financial literacy skills from an early age. Boys are also more likely to get their pocket money digitally, 8% more than girls, who are more likely to be given cash, giving boys early experience of using online payment systems.

A developed sense of financial literacy helps build healthy spending and saving patterns in later life resulting in lower levels of debt, higher savings and better consumer decisions.

The research revealed that mothers rather than fathers are more likely to assume responsibility for educating their kids about money even though they report more negative experiences in their own financial education as children.

gender pocket money gap


Worth a read: Sexism and stereotypes starts at home – 3 Plus International

Gender play gap

So not only do girls earn less pocket money than their brothers but their spending power is less.

The pink tax starts early too.

The study’s experts have also coined the term, ‘The Gender Play Gap’ for their Make Pocket Equal campaign, which launched in October 2022. That’s because not only do their findings relate to unequal pocket money, but the higher cost of “girls’ toys” in stores.

Yep, the pink tax it seems is applied even to Duplo. The pink set, complete with a cute bunny pic costs 5% more than the regular primary colour set.

It’s clear that despite some toy groups becoming gender-neutral, some manufacturers are still benefiting from the pinkification of kids’ products. Starling Bank discovered this in an audit of 450 toys, games, and books aimed at 4-11-year-olds from six retailers.

So when women complain about the pink tax on their products and the gender pay gap they are probably unaware they have unwittingly been contributing to this in their own households.

Financial literacy

It’s important that parents talk to their kids about money. Clearly, there is no need to go into blockchain or crypto, but you will be arming your child with life-long financial literacy skills.

Pay your kids the same for similar chores and buy gender neutral toys. The gender pocket money gap creates inequalities from an early age and has long-term effects which ultimately sets the scene for the gender pay gap.

Make sure your business supports gender balance.

Ask for our workshops on Managing Unconscious Bias

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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