How much does it cost to raise a child?

Parents living in the Northeast can expect to shell out the most money when it comes to raising kids. Credit: Colourbox
Parents living in the Northeast can expect to shell out the most money when it comes to raising kids.
Credit: Colourbox

An average middle-income family in the U.S. can expect to spend about $245,000 over 18 years to raise a child born in 2013, the U.S. government estimated on Monday. The Department of Agriculture’s annual “Cost of Raising a Child” report showed child-rearing costs – which reflect food, housing, childcare, education and other expenses – were up about 1.8 percent from 2012.

When adjusted for anticipated inflation, child-rearing costs will be closer to $305,000 up to the age of 18, the USDA says. Housing is the single largest cost, averaging 30 percent of the total, followed by child care and education at 18 percent and food at 16 percent.

Expenses vary by location and were lower in the urban South and in rural areas. They were highest in the urban Northeast, at almost $282,500. Costs associated with pregnancy or expenses that occur after age 18, such as higher education, are not included.

For the purposes of the data, “middle income” parents were defined as having an annual income between $61,530 and $106,540 – the middle third of the income distribution for a two-parent family with children.

Wealthier families can expect to spend almost $408,000 raising a child from birth to age 18, according to USDA. Child-raising costs have risen faster than inflation since the report was first compiled in 1960, when a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child. That would equal $198,560 in 2013 dollars.

Since then, health-care spending has doubled as a percentage of total child-rearing costs. Other costs common today, such as child care, were also negligible in 1960, the agency says.

The study showed that expenses per child fall in larger families, with those with three or more children spending 22 percent less per child than families with two children.



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