The cost for a middle-income family to raise a child born in 2013 is about $245,340, USDA said Monday, taking into consideration costs of food, housing, childcare and education to age 18.
While this represents an overall 1.8% increase from 2012, the percentages spent on each expenditure category remain the same. As in the past, the costs by location are lower in the urban South ($230,610) and rural ($193,590) regions of the country, USDA said. Families in the urban Northeast incurred the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).
USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said the data, which is found in the annual Expenditures on Children and Families report, helps families plan.
"In today's economy, it's important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future," Concannon said. He added that the report is also a benefit to state governments in determining child support and foster care values.
The Expenditures report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, notes that 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. 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, housing, care costliest expenses
For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging 30% of the total cost, USDA said. Child care and education was the second largest expense at 18%, followed by food, which accounted for 16% of the total cost.
Study author and CNPP economist Mark Lino, Ph.D., says variations by geographic region are marked when looking at housing.
"The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest," Lino said. "Other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost."
Comparing 2013 with 1960 >>
In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) to raise a child until the age of 18. Housing was the largest child-rearing expense both then and now.
Health care expenses for a child have doubled as a percentage of total child-rearing costs more than 50 years ago, though some common current-day costs, such as child care, were negligible in 1960.
Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children. Families with three or more children spend 22% less per child than families with two children. As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children, food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centers may offer sibling discounts.
For more on the costs to raise a child, view the Expenditures on Children by Families, 2013 report