Today we received another of many letters from the State. This one wanted to confirm that all child allowance payments are to be paid to me, the mother. We asked our downstairs neighbors about it. They said that a parent (only 1 parent per child) in Sweden, no matter how poor or rich, receives a monthly child allowance until their child turns 16. We heard that we will get about 1100SEK (around 170 USD) a month per child – just about the cost of kid’s preschool and aftercare. If you have more than 2 children, the per child payments go up (!!).
Our neighbor explained that this universal benefit program is quite popular. The thinking is that when you are raising your kids you need more money and, later in life, when the kids are out of the house, you will pay back in to the system (by continuing to pay taxes at the same rate but not receiving the benefit). We shook our heads in wonderment. I guess it isn’t much different from having a child as a tax exemption but it sure feels different.
This is not the first money that has come our way. There was also the introduction benefit that also gave us a few hundred dollars. You can also get paid for getting high marks in your Swedish for Immigrants class. You can get paid for filling our your medical registration forms and visiting the doctor. Dental care for children 19 and under is totally free. My work subsidizes my gym membership and my bus fare.
So, basically, the only expenses we have are rent/utilities and food (but the kids eat breakfast, lunch and snack at school). I spend just under 50% of my income (partially through taxes and then through rent and other expenses) to cover all necessary expenses.
The welfare state. I’m digging it!