A middle-income family can expect to spend about $245,340 ($304,480 adjusted for projected inflation over the next 18 year) on a child born in 2013.
That covers food, housing, childcare and education, and other child-rearing expenses up to age 18, according to the latest projection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The new figure represents an overall 1.8 percent increase from 2012, but the percentages spent on each expenditure category remain the same.
As usual, location has much to do with these costs. In the urban South, the figure is lower ($230,610), as it is in rural regions ($193,590) of the country. Families in the urban Northeast incur the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).
“In today’s economy, it’s important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future,” said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments.”
The report, issued annually, is based on data from the federal government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, a comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures.
For the year 2013, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,800 to $14,970, depending on the age of the child.
Of course, family income affects child-rearing costs.
A family earning less than $61,530 per year can expect to spend a total of $176,550 (in 2013 dollars) on a child from birth up to age 18. Middle-income parents, with an income between $61,530 and $106,540, can expect to spend $245,340; and a family earning more than $106,540 can expect to spend $407,820.
“Food is among the top three expenses in raising children,” said CNPP Executive Director Angela Tagtow, executive direct of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), which oversees the report on child expenditures. “Parents have the challenge of providing food that is not only healthful and delicious, but also affordable.
“We have great resources such as ChooseMyPlate.gov that features tips to help families serve nutritious and affordable meals. I encourage parents to check out our Healthy Eating On a Budget resources, 10-Tips Nutrition Series, recipes, and MyPlate Kids’ Place, which features digital games for kids to get engaged themselves in healthy eating.”
For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging 30 percent of the total cost. Child care and education was the second largest expense at 18 percent, followed by food, which accounted for 16 percent of the total cost.