The USDA 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.
Read the full report, "Expenditures on Children by Families."