Call it the ecstasy and the agony of family life: although it only takes seconds to create a child, raising a child — and the costs of raising that child — will be one of the most challenging (but, ultimately the most rewarding) experiences in a parent’s life. Since 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been publishing the Expenditures on Children by Families report each year to determine the cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18. Why does this report come from the Department of Agriculture? Well, for one thing, they track things that grow; secondly, bureaucrats at the Ag Department tend to view children as… well, crops — albeit really expensive, complicated crops.
Back in the 1960s — in the era of wholesome families featured on television, like My Three Sons, Family Affair, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show — life was simpler, and middle class families could actually afford the American Dream (house with white picket fence, a car, 2.5 kids, 1 pet, and a 2-week vacation). A typical middle-class two parent family, earning about $5,000-$7,000, would spend $25,230 to raise a child to the age of 18, excluding of course extravagant day care and the cost of pricey private schools (elementary, middle, and high school) and college. In today’s dollars that would be over $195,812. The cost breakdown is as follows:
Health Care: 4%
Child Care and Education: 2%
Fast forward to 2013: the cost of raise a child is now a staggering $241,080 (a 23% increase from 1960) for a middle-class two-parent family that earns between $60,400 and $105,000 per year. The cost breakdown shifts dramatically in one category — child care and education. Here are the numbers:
Health Care: 8%
Child Care and Education: 18%
According to the College Board, the average annual cost for a public college is $17,860; for a private college, average annual cost is $39,518 — and those numbers are conservative (actual, real world numbers will make your head spin). So, when you add the cost of public college (4 x 17,860=71,440), the cost of raising a child increases dramatically to $312,344, overwhelming the average middle class family budget. If the child wants to attend a private college, the cost comes to a whopping $399,152 — a figure that is sure to send parents scrambling to hide under the sheets, where it all began 18 years ago.
For further reading: huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/cost-of-raising-a-child-usda_n_3757365.html