NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 6, 2007

Government figures put the total cost of raising a child at $279,000, but some increasingly common expenses can send the number soaring over $1 million, say Eileen Dassin and Ellen Gamerman in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Wall Street Journal's own calculations on average spending per child:

  • At the lowest end, estimates came in at about $800,000 (in 2007 dollars) through the age of 17.
  • Add in extras like sports equipment, flat screen TVs and MP3 players and spending per child climbs to $1.6 million.

The biggest and most common driver is education, say the authors:

  • One in 10 children now goes to private or parochial school.
  • Even at a relatively modest tuition at a parochial school of $6,000 a year, that would add $60,000 or more to the government's total figure of $36,000 for education and child care.
  • Likewise, academic extras are becoming routine; the average income of a family seeking tutoring for a child is between $50,000 and $75,000, according to Adventures, a Boston-based market-research firm.

School itself is just the beginning. Education costs might mean paying $16,500 in annual property taxes in an area with top public schools.  Then there are costs that are directly in support of education, like SAT prep and tutoring, say the authors.  But fixated on those eventual college applications, more parents now see everything from trips to volunteering in developing countries to laptops and art-appreciation classes as falling under the category of education -- and therefore, justifiable.

Source: Eileen Dassin and Ellen Gamer man, "The Million-Dollar Kid," Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2007.

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