Raising a child now costs 40 percent more than a decade ago, says U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
Who can who put a price tag on raising a child? For parents, the joys of child rearing may far exceed the expenses, but if you really want to know, it’s $226,920. That’s the cost a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years, according to the Department of Agriculture’s annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families. Costs associated with pregnancy and post-high school education are not included.
For the year 2010, raising a child can cost a middle-income, two-parent family upward of $13,830 compared to $9,860 a decade ago. Income, the report finds, is a significant factor affecting child rearing costs. A family earning less than $57,600 per year can expect to spend a total of $163,440 (in last year’s dollars) raising a child from birth through high school. Parents with an income between $57,600 and $99,730 can expect to shell out $226,920. That price tag increases to $377,040 for families earning more than $99,730.
What a difference five decades makes. In 1960, the first year the USDA issued its report on the cost of raising a child, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child through age 17.
Housing costs are the single largest expenditure for middle-income families. They average $69,660 or nearly a third of the total cost over 17 years. Child care and education and food account for 17 and 16 percent respectively of their total expenditure. Other expenses weighed include transportation, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous items such as personal care, entertainment and reading materials.
The prolonged economic downturn has made financing a child’s upbringing even more challenging. Unemployment is over 9 percent and median household income over the past decade has fallen 7 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
CNN cited AAA data that between 2000 and 2010, consumers paid an average of 85 percent more per gallon at the pump. With cuts in medical coverage by employers, many families must pick up more of the tab for doctor visits and medication. Just the price of a movie ticket has increased from an average of $5.39 in 2000 to over $10 today. And that doesn’t even factor in movies in 3D, which are even more expensive.
Prospective parents looking to cut down on child rearing costs might consider living in the urban South and rural areas. It costs less there to raise a child. The urban Northeast is most expensive, followed by the urban West and the urban Midwest.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.