Raising A Kid In America Is More Expensive Than Ever

USDAParents shell out the most for housing and food.

Photo: USDA

Brace yourselves, mum and Dad.The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released its annual report on family expenditures and it’s more expensive than ever to raise a kid in the U.S.

The average middle-class family who had a child in 2011 will shell out $234,900 to keep it fed and a roof over its head for the next 17 years––between $12,290 and $14,320 per year. 

The figure represents a 3.5 per cent increase from last year’s report, which isn’t too surprising given the well-documented rising cost of food, transportation and education this year. 

But the largest expenditure by far was housing, according the report:

For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging $70,560 or 30 per cent of the total cost over 17 years. Child care and education (for those incurring these expenses) and food were the next two largest expenses, accounting for 18 and 16 per cent of the total cost over 17 years.

Then again, that’s not even counting what today’s parents will have to pay for higher education 17 years from now. 

Here are some other interesting findings: 

Geography matters. Child-rearing costs the most for families living in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. It’s most affordable in Urban South and rural areas.

More kids equals more savings. Buying in bulk helps families save on groceries and it might apply to childcare, too. “Families with three or more children spend 22 per cent less per child than families with two children,” the report says. “As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children, food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centres may offer sibling discounts.”

Change over time. Since the report first ran in 1960, the cost of raising children has jumped significantly. It cost about $25,000 back then ($191,720 in today’s dollars), although housing remained the biggest expenditure even four decades ago. See how much has changed in the graph below: 


Photo: USDA

DON’T MISS: How this family raised 19 kids without going into any debt > 

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