What will it Cost Families to Raise a Child?


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Any parent can tell you that raising a child requires a lot of time, patience, love, and understanding. In a more practical sense, it also requires an investment of the monetary kind. Raising a child is an expensive undertaking and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it has become more expensive than ever.

A new report entitled “The Cost of Raising a Child” estimates that, for a child born in 2015, a “middle-income” married-couple family will need to spend anywhere between $12,350 and $13,900 annually until the child turns 17. When it is all added up, families are expected to spend an average of $233,610 on child-rearing expenses. Lower income families are expected to spend $174,690; for higher income families, the cost is anticipated to be $372,210.

“As the economy continues to improve, USDA is committed to supporting the nutrition and health of individuals and families through our research and programs,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services in a news release. “This report … serves as a valuable tool for financial planning and educational programs, as well as courts and state governments.”

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The USDA’s report broke down the spending costs that married-couple and single-parent households incur during the raising of children. Housing, at 29% of all expenses, was the largest cost associated with child-rearing while clothing (6%) was the smallest expense. The costs for child rearing were highest in the urban areas of the Northeast, West, and South; the lowest costs were in the urban and rural areas of the Midwest.

“When CNPP first issued this report in 1960, housing and food were the two highest expenses, just as they are today,” said the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) Executive Director Angie Tagtow. “But while housing costs have increased over time, changes in American agriculture have resulted in lower food costs, and family food budgets now represent a lower percentage of household income.”

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