Have you ever thought about how much it will actually cost to raise a child in today’s economic climate? Well, we have a staggering figure and it is probably much more than you think.

The United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA), has been tracking the cost of raising a child since the 1960s by annually releasing the Expenditures on Children by Families report.  The USDA examines expenses for a family in terms of a child’s age, the family’s income, region of the country in which they live, and then presents an estimated cost based on projected inflation rates. The cost of raising a child from birth to 18-years-old in 1960’s was $25,299 as compared to today where it has spiraled to more than a quarter of a million dollars.


Based on the most recent data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, a middle-income family will expect to spend at least $233,610.00 raising their child, and of course this depends on the number of children, inflation projections, and the year that the child was born.  So, what does all of that money cover? Well, primarily it only covers the cost of food, shelter, and other necessities. No college costs are factored in!

The survey goes on to say that, of course, if the household income level is higher, then more money is spent on children, particularly for child care, education, and miscellaneous expenses. Overall, the cost for teenagers is higher due to higher food costs as well as higher transportation costs which are associated with driving, purchasing an additional vehicle, and insurance.

In terms of geographic location—families in rural areas spend 24% less on children than other areas of the country. Families in the urban Northeast spend the most.

Reports such as these are extremely helpful for families as they allow them to project and plan. By using the many tools available on, such as the cost of raising a child calculator, parents are able to analyze expenses in comparison to budgetary constraints and hopefully come up with something that will work for them. For more information on the Annual Report on Expenditures on Children by Families, click here.

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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