Kids aren’t cheap. That’s the consensus among both the government and parents, but exactly how much they cost is up for debate.
For years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published an annual report that calculated the average cost of raising a child to adulthood, not including college expenses. That report hasn’t been undated since 2017, but at that time, it found the cost of raising a child born in 2015 was $233,610. That assumes the child was born to a middle-income, married couple. When adjusted for inflation, the number jumps to $267,233 in 2021 dollars, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I can’t even think about that much money,” is the reaction of Leah Groves, a single mother of two in Lowell, Michigan. For parents like Groves, the prospect of paying that much to raise children isn’t just daunting; it may not even be possible. “I can’t afford child care,” she says. Instead, the 31-year-old works from home for a nonprofit organization and recently picked up a part-time job at the local YMCA specifically because it offered child care as a work benefit.
The USDA found that in 2015, single-parent households spent an average of $172,200 – more than $60,000 less than their married peers. When adjusted for inflation, that figure increases to $196,984 as a solo parent’s current cost to raise a child to 18.
The government numbers aren’t necessarily reflective of all families’ experiences, though. There are a number of circumstances and choices that can increase or decrease the cost of child rearing. As Groves notes, “You can provide a simple, good life for much less.”
How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?
The USDA came to its figures by using data from the annual Consumer Expenditures Survey. It found the cost of raising kids can also vary by region, with the Northeast being the priciest location in the nation.
For children born in 2015, average spending breaks down into the following percentages, according to the USDA:
- Housing: 29%
- Food: 18%
- Child care and education: 16%
- Transportation: 15%
- Health care: 9%
- Miscellaneous: 7%
- Clothing: 6%…Read more>>