By ALICE MAGGIN and SADIE BASS
Aug. 4, 2009
Aug. 4, 2009
The Department of Agriculture released a report today that says middle-income families with a child born in 2008 will spend $221,190 to raise that child through high school.
That's $291,570 when the cost is adjusted for inflation. The report, "Expenditures in Children by Families," said parents can expect to spend $11,610 to $13,480 each year, depending on the age of the child. So, what's so expensive? The largest cost is housing, which averages $69,660 -- that's 32 percent of the total cost over the child's lifetime. Next up is food and child care/education, which average 16 percent each. Add in the price of transportation, health care and clothing and you've got one expensive child.
There are some variables that can affect how much a family spends. Not surprisingly, parents with a higher annual income end up spending more on child costs, the report said.Specifically, a family earning less than $56,870 annually will spend $159,870 over their child's lifetime, according to the report. Families earning between $56,870 and $98,470 will spend $221,190 and families that earn more than $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660, the report said.
The number of kids in a family also influences a family's spending habits. Only children get more of their parents' money than kids with siblings. Parents with one child spend 26 percent of their income, but that amount increases to 39 percent if there are two children, and 48 percent if there are three, the USDA report said.
Region is another factor -- costs are highest in the urban Northeast, followed by cities in the West and Midwest.
"Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses," the study said.
And finally, the older the child, the higher the cost. As kids get older, their needs become more expensive.
Today's Numbers Compared to 1960
The USDA first released its report on child costs in 1960, when it estimated that a child would cost his or her parents $25,230 (that's $183,509 in 2008 dollars).
Since then, the largest change has been the cost of child care. With more families with two working parents, child care has become a "significant" expense for many families
The USDA plans to release a 2008 version of its Cost of Raising a Child Calculator. The online calculator is designed to help families easily estimate their costs, and makes the figures from the report easier to understand.
The calculator takes into account the ages and number of children in a family, the number of parents in the home, where the family lives and the overall household income.
Today's report does not factor in the cost of college, which can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As Raaben Andrews of St. Louis told The Associated Press, "Well, that's not the half of it. I still have to put the little buggers through college."