Cost of raising a child now $235K

Want to start a family? It'll cost you more than ever, according to a new government report.

By Giselle Smith Jun 15, 2012 4:54PM

Image: Baby with money (© Creatas/Photolibrary)On Father's Day, many of us will acknowledge the sacrifices inherent in parenthood. But if you want to put a dollar figure on it, a new government report puts the cost of raising a child born last year to age 18 at $234,900.


That's enough to buy a home in most U.S. housing markets -- or a Ferrari, as The Associated Press points out.

The figure represents the cost -- in 2011 dollars -- for two middle-income parents to raise a child in a two-child family from birth to legal adulthood, according to the annual Expenditures on Children by Families report (.pdf file) released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Post continues below.)


The number includes housing, child care, education, transportation and food; it does not include costs associated with pregnancy or college.


The 2011 figure represents a 3.5% increase over the 2010 estimate. Adjusting for projected inflation, middle-income parents -- with a household income between $59,410 and $102,870 a year -- can expect to actually spend $295,560 per child born in 2011, the report says.


The single largest expenditure over the next 17 years for middle-income families is housing, estimated to be about $70,560 or 30% of the total cost.


Here's a breakdown of the other costs:

  • Child care and education: 18%.
  • Food: 16%.
  • Transportation: 14%.
  • Health care: 8%.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: 8%.
  • Clothing: 6%.

Spending varies by household income, with families that earn less than $59,410 expected to spend $169,080 (in 2011 dollars) per child, and those earning more than $102,870 expected to spend $389,670.


Families with multiple children get a break on a per-child basis, with costs decreasing by 22% per kid for families with three or more children. Projected spending also varies geographically, with families in the urban Northeast expected to spend the most, followed by those in the urban West and Midwest; families in the urban South and in rural areas are expected to spend the least.

The annual report was first issued in 1960, when a middle-income family was expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child to age 18. That would be $191,720 in 2011 dollars.


Maybe you should get Dad something nicer than a tie this year.


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Jun 17, 2012 5:36PM
These articles always make me laugh. This amount isn't even in the realm of possibility for most parents today.

Jun 18, 2012 12:56PM

Merry Holidays you have no idea what your talking about. It's true men do primarily pay the money to support and raise their children. In family court a man has about 0% chance of being granted primary custody of his children and yet pays the full load of supporting their children. I pay child support and will pay the amount mentioned in the article (@ 250k) before it's over and done with. I don't get to see my child. The mother an dmy child have moved 100's of miles away and after paying child support there is nothing left for me to travel on and be a part of my child's life.

Tell me "merry holidays" how this is fair, because I can tell you as a father I sure as h#** don't have many merry holidays without my child to enjoy them with.

Jun 18, 2012 2:11PM
So, 30% of the cost is housing, how stupid are these writers and researchers?
I did.t take out a loan to add a room on my home when my child was born!
It's not a "real" cost sorry.

Jun 17, 2012 8:21AM
This article appears to assume that Dads primarily  pay the money to support and raise their children!!!!There are many Dads (aka those who impregnated their wives) who think and believe that they should have NO responsibility for their children unless they (the Dads) want to...I heard one "Dad:" say..that he did not believe he should be required to pay child support..that he did not mind occasionally sending some "left over..spare money" to his children but that in his opinion that is all..only voluntary support from fathers...nothing required....just saying!!!
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