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.
August 15, 2013: The U.S Dept. of Agriculture released its newest report yesterday on how much money middle-income parents can expect to spend raising (when did "raising" become standard English instead of "rearing," the accurate term?) a child born in 2012 through to age 18. The figure is $241,080 ($301,970 adjusted for projected inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities... a 2.6% increase from 2011.
Expenses for child care, education, health care, and clothing saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2011. However, there were smaller increases in housing, food, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses during the same period. The 2.6% increase from 2011 to 2012 is also lower than the average annual increase of 4.4% since 1960....
The report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), notes that family income affects child-rearing costs. A family earning less than $60,640 per year can expect to spend a total of $173,490 (in 2012 dollars) on a child from birth through high school. Middle-income parents with an income between $60,640 and $105,000 can expect to spend $241,080**; and a family earning more than $105,000 can expect to spend $399,780....
For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging $71,820 or 30% of the total cost over 17 years. Child care and education (for those incurring these expenses) and food were the next two largest expenses, accounting for 18 and 16% of the total cost over 17 years. These estimates do not include costs associated with pregnancy or education beyond high school.
The report notes geographic variations in the cost of raising a child, with expenses the highest for families living in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses.
"Lower housing costs contributed to the reduced expenditures for families in rural areas," explained study author and economist Mark Lino, Ph.D. "Families in rural areas also saw lower child-care and education expenses."