The United States Department of Agriculture reported that a US middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about 234.900 dollars for food, shelter and other necessities to raise him or her over the next 17 years, an increase of 3.5% from 2010.
Much of the increase in 2011 came from a 10% rise in transportation costs, largely the result of gasoline prices that topped 4 dollars a gallon in some parts of the country, making car trips to soccer games and flights to Disney World more costly.
“The expenditures on children are still going up,” said Mark Lino, a USDA economist, who noted he sees no sign of that slowing. “It seems people keep on spending more on their children.”
Middle-income parents with an income between 59,410 and 102,870 dollars can expect to spend 234,900 dollars, and a family earning more than 102,870 can expect to spend 389,670 to raise a child.
The report, issued annually by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion since 1960, found expenses for transportation, child care, education and food posted the biggest increases in 2011 compared with a year earlier. There were smaller increases in housing, clothing, health care and miscellaneous expenses.
Housing costs are the single largest expense in raising a child, averaging 70,560, or 30% of the total cost, until the age of 17, the USDA found. Child care and education, followed by food, were the next two largest expenses at 18 and 16% respectively.
The cost of child care has soared dramatically since the first report 51 years ago. In the early years, it was almost negligible, with child care largely defined as baby-sitting when the parents went out for the night.
Back then, a middle-income family could have expected to spend 25,230 (191,720 in 2011 dollars) to raise a child through age 17. Housing was the top cost to raise a child back then, too.