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24 May 2012

Who Rules The Family? Teenage Girls Hold Most Sway Over The Spending, at Least

Keywords: advertising, parents, survey, teens, Western Europe, consumer behavior, family communication, income, money expenditure, purchase requests, young adults,

A study in The Economic Journal shows that young people are key decision makers when it comes to spending money. The study of thousands of UK family budgets shows that teenagers and daughters are the most influential of all.

Take aways

  • Young people have enormous influence on household decision-making—and are therefore an important advertising target group.
  • Teenage daughters are the most influential members in the household.
  • A concern is that teens inflate the money the family spends on unhealthy products like tobacco and alcohol.

Study information

  • The question?

    Do teens and young adults influence household consumption choices?

  • Who?

    2,745 UK families

  • Where?


  • How?

    The researchers looked at annual UK family expenditures in a survey taken from 1982-1993. In this survey, each family member keeps diary records of daily expenditures for two weeks. The authors focused on families with one child older than 16, living at home. They distinguished between teens (16-21 y/o) and young adults (>22 y/o).

Facts and findings

  • Young people living with their parents played an important role in household decisions.
  • Daughters had the most influence over household decisions.
  • Teens had more influence than the young adults.
  • Food, recreation, and clothes were the largest costs.
  • Remarkable fact: When teens had more money, the family bought more tobacco and alcohol products and spent less on leisure and recreation.
  • Remarkable fact: According to the authors, sons and older children have weaker options outside the household, explaining the greater influence of daughters and younger teens.