U.S. Child Born in 2010 May Cost $226,920 to Raise

A middle-income family may spend $226,920 to raise a child born in 2010 to the age of 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report.

The estimate is up 2.1 percent from 2009, according to the study, posted today on the department’s website. Expenses for child care, education, transportation and health services represented the biggest increases in child-rearing costs, the USDA said in a statement accompanying the report.

The typical two-parent family spent from $11,880 to $13,830 on each child, the study found. Households that make less spend less, USDA researchers said. A family earning less than $57,600 a year is likely to spend $163,440 in 2010 dollars to rear a child, while parents earning more than $99,730 may pay $377,040, according to the study.

“Child-rearing expenses vary considerably by household income level,” according to the report. Annual expenses generally increased with a child’s age, a circumstance true in both two-parent and single-parent families, the study found.

The report also includes an on-line calculator that families can use to calculate costs based on their unique situations.

Expensive Northeast

Expenses were highest for children raised in the urban Northeast, followed by cities in the West and Midwest, the USDA said. The urban South and rural areas were the least expensive. Housing accounts for the biggest portion of expenses, averaging 31 percent over 17 years, the USDA said. Child care and education average 17 percent, with food costs at 16 percent. The estimates don’t include college expenses.

The study, published each year since 1960, helps courts and government agencies estimate child-support costs, the USDA said. In the first study, housing also accounted for 31 percent of the cost to raise a child, then estimated at $25,230 -- the equivalent of $185,856 in 2010 dollars. Food was the second-biggest component, at 24 percent, with transportation at 16 percent, compared with 14 percent in 2010.

In 1960, health care was only 4 percent of the cost of raising a child, half of what it is now. Education and child care accounted for 2 percent of costs.

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