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USDA Releases Report On Cost of Raising a Child

USDA Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion

A new USDA report says costs have risen for raising a child in the United States, but that the cost can also depend on region.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

The United States Department of Agriculture has  released its annual Expenditures on Children and Families report.  Compiled since 1960, the report examines the different expenses that go into raising a family, particularly children.  It says it will cost families about $245,340 to raise a child born in 2013, a 1.8% increase from last year.

Dr. Mark Lino is a USDA economist and the author of the 2013 report.  He says while the percentages spent on each type of expense, such as child care and education, have remained the same from 2012, he says there have been changes to these categories over several years.

“Over time, the biggest increased in expenditures on children have occurred in the areas of housing. People are buying larger homes with more bathrooms, more bedrooms. Healthcare has increased tremendously. People are facing higher copayments as well as covering more of their insurance premiums and since 1960, when we first started doing this report, childcare has been a major new and growing expense on children.”

Housing is the single largest category, taking up 30% of the cost of raising a child, with child care and education taking up 18%, food 16%, and transportation 14%.  The report notes that the average cost differs by geographic region, with the largest in the Urban Northwest, at around $282,000.  Costs are lowest in the Urban South, at around $230,000, and in rural America at around $193,000.   Dr. Lino notes that the report doesn’t include the cost of college education, nor the more indirect costs of childrearing.

“We look at the direct expenditures on children. These are your out of pocket expenses. There are also indirect costs of children, these are your foregone earnings. Usually, when parents have a child, one reduces time or even drops out of the labor force. This has a cost attached to it. These indirect costs, studies have found, can exceed the direct expenditures on children.”

The report can be viewed in full at the website of the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  The site also includes infographics on the report’s main conclusions and an online calculator for childcare costs.