Does It Always Cost $245,000 to Raise a Child?

August 20, 2014

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report this week detailing just how much a household spends to raise a child. Their conclusion? An average $245,340 through the age of 17 for a child of a middle-income family.

According to the report:

  • Average expenditures on a child from a middle-income family in 1960 were $198,560 in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars, rising to $245,340 in 2013.
  • Housing was the largest child expense in 1960 as well as in 2013.
  • Housing, transportation, health care, child care and education expenses increased from 1960 to today.
  • Food and clothing expenses, on the other hand, fell as a share of total child expenses from 1960 to 2013.

But Katrina Trinko of the Daily Signal argues that the $245,000 figure is somewhat misleading because it is just an average. The number, she writes, "includes those who are struggling to stay afloat, and those who are buying $1,250 strollers for their children."

Accounting for income level, the Department of Agriculture report made clear that child-rearing expenses vary: for families earning less than $61,530, annual child expenses fell within the range of $9,130 to $10,400, depending upon a child's age. For families with incomes above $106,540, annual expenses ranged from $21,330 to $25,700.

Moreover, Trinko notes that large families should not expect to spend $245,000 on each child; as families increase in size, the cost per child of food, housing and transportation decrease. According to the USDA, families with at least three children can expect to subtract 22 percent from the expected expenses for a child's age category. Similarly, a family with just one child should add 25 percent to cost estimates, while a single-parent family should add 29 percent.

Source: Katrina Trinko, "This Chart Proves It Doesn't Have to Cost $245,000 to Raise a Child," Daily Signal, August 18, 2014.

 

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