Cost of raising a child to 18 hits $245,340 in U.S., report finds

Raising a child born today in the U.S. to the age of 18 will cost a family $245,340, the U.S. government said in an annual report today.
The cost of raising a child has risen to an average of more than $245,000, U.S. government estimates show. (James S. Wood/Arizona Star Daily/Associated Press)

Raising a child born today in the United States to the age of 18 will cost a family $245,340, the U.S. government said in an annual report today.

The U.S. Agriculture Department issued an annual report on Monday showing the cost a family incurs in raising a child increased by 1.8 per cent in 2013, compared with 2012.

(Although the report seems out of place at the Agriculture Department, the report comes out of the agency's Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which has a mandate to "improve the health of Americans  by advancing consumer, nutrition, and food economic knowledge.")

The report found that households in the northeastern part of the country will pay disproportionately more — as much as $282,480 — compared to families in the Midwest, South or West Coast.

Costs rising

With inflation factored in, the average figure means a family will pay as much as $304,480 in real dollars to raise a child born today to the age of 18. 

The report found that families are still spending money in roughly the same ratios through the years, but the costs of individual components are escalating.

The report does not include costs incurred after 18, such as post-secondary education that can cost between $18,000 and $40,000 — nor does it factor in costs associated with pregnancy, such as a loss of income.

In 1960, the first year the USDA started tracking the data, a child born that year would likely cost $25,230 to raise until the year 1978. (In today's dollars, that's the equivalent of $198,560.

For most families, the cost of housing remains the biggest expense, eating up 30 per cent of the costs of a child. Child care and education is the second-largest expenditure at 18 per cent, followed by food at 16 per cent. Transportation is next, at 14 per cent.

The report also found that expenses decrease as a family has more children: Families with three or more children spend an average of 22 per cent less per child than families with two or fewer, because children are able to share toys, clothes and bedrooms, the report says.   


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