Friday, August 14, 2009

The Cost of Raising a Child, According to the Government

Now we have it straight from the horse's mouth, or at least the government's mouth: it costs a lot to raise a child. The report excludes the cost of a college education. And for frum parents, add in the cost of a yeshiva education through at least 12th grade and further. Add in "mandated" camp costs. Now multiply by the number of children you have or would like to have and stare at the resulting number for a few moments. Scary isn't it? And this number doesn't include any expenses that aren't directly related to child raising. And it doesn't cover any expenses for mom and dad. Robbed any good banks lately?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2009 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released a new report*, Expenditures on Children by Families, finding that a middle-income family with a child born in 2008 can expect to spend about $221,190 ($291,570 when adjusted for inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next seventeen years. Issued by USDA each year since 1960, the report is a valuable resource to courts and state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments. For the year 2008, annual child-rearing expenses for a middle-income, two-parent family ranges from $11,610 to $13,480, depending on the age of the child.

The report by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion notes that family income affects child rearing costs. A family earning less than $56,870 per year can expect to spend a total of $159,870 (in 2008 dollars) on a child from birth through high school. Similarly, parents with an income between $56,870 and $98,470 can expect to spend $221,190; and a family earning more than $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660. In 1960, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($183,509 in 2008 dollars) to raise a child through age seventeen. Housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging $69,660 or 32 percent of the total cost over seventeen years. Food and child care/education (for those with the expense) were the next two largest expenses, each averaging 16 percent of the total expenditure.

The estimates do not include the cost of childbearing or the cost of a college education.

In addition, some current-day costs, such as child care, were negligible in 1960. The report notes geographic variations in the cost of raising a child, with expenses the highest for families living in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses.

USDA also plans to soon release an update of the Cost of Raising a Child Calculator, an online, interactive version of its annual report on Expenditures on Children by Families, which makes the figures more easily accessible to the public. To use the Calculator, people can enter the age(s) and number of children they have, whether the household consists of a married couple or a single parent, region of residence, and overall household income. The Calculator will then compute the average dollar amount the family is estimated to spend on their child or children and compare it to the national average cost of raising a child. Click here to view/download the full report*, Expenditures on Children by Families.


Anonymous said...

At least with big families, the per child cost goes down a bit. For example, if two or three children share a bedroom, the housing cost for 3 children is the same as for one and heat and utilities, etc. doesn't go up. There also are hand-me down strollers, cribs, clothes and toys and a babysitter doesn't charge double for caring for two children instead of one.

Ruth said...

Anonymnous, baby sitters in our area, adult ones, charge more the more kids they have to sit for. So two kids costs more than one, and three more than two. About the utilities, yes and no. The more kids the more you use electricity and certainly the more laundry you do, using gas, electricity and water more. The more kids the more showers and baths, the more you pay for water. Your food costs go up. I assume (maybe a bad assumption considering this is our spendthrift government we are talking about) that the government figures on some items being hand me downs, but not everything can last through all your kids. Kind of difficult to put your daughter in your son's hand me down clothing.

But for frum people the more kids the more tuition is paid even with a multi kid discount. And that's more college tuitions, which aren't even included in the government costs.

Anonymous said...

Ruth: I didn't say the second and third children were free, just that some costs go down on a per child basis. Housing, heating and transportation are the biggies. There are savings to be had on clothes and toys. You don't buy a new swing set for each additional child, and although the babysitter charges more for two than one, it's not double.