USDA: Cost of raising a child reaches $250,000

The wealthiest spend even more on their children, more than $400,000 per child, with housing being the largest cost.

Ananth Baliga
Students from AppleTree Learning Public Charter School play during an event in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Students from AppleTree Learning Public Charter School play during an event in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The average U.S. middle-class family will spend nearly $250,000 to raise a child, not including the cost of sending them to college.

Parents who had a child in 2013 can expect to spend $245,340 for the first 18 years of the child's life, according to the U.S. Department of agriculture's annual Expenditures on Children by Families report, released Monday. The amount climbs to $304,480 if inflation is factored in. The costs do not include pregnancy-related expenses and other items, like college.


"In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments," said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.

The cost has risen by 1.8 percent from last year, the slowest gain since 2009. The top costs include housing, accounting for 30 percent of the cost. Parents will spend 18 percent on child care and education, 16 percent on food and 8 percent on health care.

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Families earning $61,530 per year can expect to spend $176,550, in 2013 dollars, on a child from birth to the age of 18. Middle-income parents, earning between $61,530 and $106,540, will spend $245,340, while a family earning more than $106,540 can expect to spend $407,820.


The costs also vary according to a family's geographic location.

"The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest. It's interesting to note that other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost," said CNPP economist and study author Mark Lino.

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According to the study, families with more than one child end up spending less. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children because children share the same housing, and clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children.

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