LPM Staff

It takes $250K to raise Junior

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Back in 1960, the Department of Agriculture released its first report on Expenditures on Children by Families. The report indicated that at the time (about 50 years ago), a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($185,856 in 2010 dollars) to raise a child through age 17. Break it down and it equals about $1,500 per year to raise Junior during The Beatles heyday.

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Today, a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend about $226,920 ($286,860 with inflation considered) for food, shelter and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years – or a few hundred bucks over $13,000 per year. And this doesn’t count the pregnancy, related hospital bills or a college education.

Back in the ‘60s, the biggest worries for parents were housing and health care. Today, expenses for transportation and childcare enter the mix.

Courts and state governments use the report to determine child support guidelines and foster care payments. The report is based on data from the federal government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures.

And as would be expected, the higher the family income, the higher child-rearing costs, according to a report by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. A family earning less than $57,600 per year can expect to spend a total of $163,440 (in 2010 dollars) on a child from birth through high school, whereas a family earning more than $99,730 can expect to spend $377,040. Luckily (or not), the cost per child decreases as the family has more children, as bedrooms are shared, 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 centers may offer sibling discounts.

Read the full report at cnpp.usda.gov.

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