A near stagnant economy, high unemployment and cuts in social benefits might be spurring German adults to keep a firm grip on their purse strings when it comes to shopping or eating out. But judging by a new study, the country's teenagers -- encouraged by indulgent parents -- seem to be throwing all financial caution to the winds.
The study by the Munich-based market research institute iconKids & youth found that youngsters between the ages of 6 and 19 tend to spend the most -- 3.4 billion euros ($4.1 billion) yearly -- on clothes and accessories followed by 2.3 billion euros on going out.
Mobile phones topped the list of accessories with children and teenagers shelling out some 2.5 billion euros on their mobile phones each year with 190 million euros alone spent on downloading games and ring tones.
Music apparently is another popular buy with 1.1 billion euros spent yearly on cassettes and CDs followed by 1 billion euros on cosmetics and body care products and 960 million euros on computers, software and video games.
Less kids, more investment
The study which polled 1,439 children and teenagers in Germany found that despite tough economic times the surveyed age group had increasing amounts of money to burn. This year, that amounts to 19 billion euros -- 600 million euros more than 2004.
Researchers point out that the study results appeared all the more stunning given that the age group between 6 and 19 years had shrunk by 110,000 to 12.11 million in 2005 due to demographic changes in the country. "Children are increasingly becoming a rare commodity," Ingo Barlovic, who headed the study, told German news agency DPA. "And the less kids there are, the more one invests in them."
Barlovic underlined that the children were very clearly disconnected from the present tough economic situations of adults in Germany. At the same time, he added it would be wrong to conclude that the financial situation of all children and teenagers in the country was rosy because the study worked with average values and didn't particularly highlight the problem of child poverty.
Researchers also point out that the study shows that 10 percent of 10- to 14-year-olds didn't receive regular pocket money -- thus creating a clear division between the haves and the have-nots.
Adults should spoil themselves
Average incomes of children and teenagers between 6 and 19 years are also rising, according to the study. In 2005, the per-head income reached 1,570 euros -- 60 euros more than the previous year.
Parents too aren't holding back when it comes to satisfying their children's needs -- 4.7 billion euros alone flow as regular pocket money on the age group.
Furthermore, there are a string of additional income sources such as unplanned gifts by parents, money from part-time jobs for those already working and, most importantly, financial presents from family during Christmas and on birthdays. The study found that the latter alone amounts to some 2.4 billion euros yearly.
The study concludes that with total spending at 19.8 billion euros currently, young people's expenses will overtake their incomes this year and thus expects kids to fall back slightly on savings it estimates at a total of 6.3 billion euros.
"Saying no to spending is definitely out with kids," said Barlovic. "If only the adults followed them (children and teenagers), the economy could finally begin to look up."