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Babies - the quarter-million dollar investment

Costs of child-rearing
Expenditures on Children by Families

According to the 2011 Expenditures on Children by Families annual report released by the USDA today, raising a baby born in 2011 will cost a middle-class family about $234,900 in today's currency.

According to the report,

This represents a 3.5 percent increase from 2010. Expenses for transportation, child care, education, and food saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2010. There were smaller increases in housing, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous expenses on a child during the same period.

The report states that most of this money will fund the child’s housing, child care, education and food expenses through age 17, representing roughly 64 percent of all costs. As the study only follows children from birth through high school, costs associated with pregnancy and post-high school education are omitted from these numbers.

The good news? The more you have, the less each child costs, says the report:

Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. 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 centers may offer sibling discounts.

According to the report, raising a child in the urban Midwest is the third most expensive U.S. geographic region in which to raise a child, followed by urban coastal areas, while raising children in rural areas costs less.

The study found that these costs also fluctuate depending on household income, from an average of $169,080 for families earning less than $59,410 annually, to $389,670 for families who make more than $102,870 each year.

The graphic above shows how costs of child-rearing have changed since 1960.

Are you weighing the financial feasibility of raising a child? Try the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom


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