Study: Children's minimum subsistence level is too high

Children. Source: ERR

The children's minimum subsistence level in Estonia is 70 percent higher than the average maintenance cost per child and people often have trouble paying for it, a new study by the University of Tartu commissioned by the Ministry of Justice has found.

The currently valid law says that the lowest subsistence paid for a child is half of the minimum wage which as of 2020 is €584 per month. The recent rise of the minimum wage means that if a couple who has broken up has four children, the parent living away from the children has to pay subsistence of approximately €1,200, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Monday.

"Most people act according to the minimum costs worked out by the ministry. It's definitely not appropriate in all situations," the family mediator Helle Niit said.

The study by the University of Tartu that was presented on Monday finds that the current system is inflexible and doesn't consider the actual spending that is made on children.

The analyst of the Tartu University's Center of Applied Social Sciences Kadri Lees explained the minimum subsistence level is currently too high and people have trouble paying it. "We have calculated, in the case of the standard budget, the average spending per child is €343 a month and to think in the context of subsistence, it should be halved," Lees said.

According to the study, the maintenance cost per parent should be €172 rather than the current €292. If there are several children, the expenses decrease due to the economies of scale. The current law does not take this into consideration. 

"We brought out different factors that should be looked into when assigning the minimum subsistence level. They should be the age of the child, if they have brothers or sisters and the area where they lives. These factors should be considered when preparing the new draft," Lees said.

The Justice ministry has received many complaints about subsistence and is trying to find a fair solution.

"We have to face this data and discuss exactly what it should and can bring regarding the choices made by politicians," the Adviser to the Office of Private Law of the Justice ministry Anda Olm said. 


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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