What Does it Cost to Raise a Child?

A quarter of a million dollars, to be exact.

It is now more expensive than ever, in real terms, to raise a child. In 2009, the average cost to raise a child to age 17 was nearly a quarter of a million dollars – $222,360. This is compared to the $182,857 that it cost in 1960.

(Source: USDA, Expenditures on Children by Families 2009)

And it’s not just the actual cost that has changed – the make up of the cost is different now, too. Most notably, childcare and education have become a large portion of expenses (17%) today; whereas they were virtually negligible just 50 years ago. The main driver of this change is the proliferation in paid caregivers (babysitters, day care, etc.).

Families are now spending less of their child-rearing dollars on food (24% in 1960 compared to 16% in 2009), attributable to “advances” in agriculture that have lowered the prices of most food items. Perhaps related, spending on health care has climbed from 4% in 1960 to a notable 8% in 2009.

For more information on this data – it’s actually quite fascinating – check out the USDA report.

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