Just Had a Baby? Prepare to Spend $233,610 Raising It

The cost of child-rearing rose 3% in 2015, the government says

By Janet Adamy

It’s getting more expensive to raise children in America.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that married, middle-income parents will spend $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015 from infancy to adulthood. That estimate was as small as $174,690 for low-income families and as large as $372,210 for high earners.

The agency found the cost of child-rearing rose 3% from 2014 to 2015, a rate that’s above inflation but below the pace at which such costs have risen in a typical year since 1960. What’s changed over time is that child care and education represent a larger piece of the pie while the share that goes toward housing and feeding children is shrinking.

The estimates also factor in the cost of transportation, health care, clothes and other incidentals, but they don’t include biggies such as saving for college.

How much you’ll ultimately shell out varies greatly depending on where you live. Such expenses are highest in the urban Northeast, urban West, and urban South, and the lowest in the urban Midwest and rural areas, the USDA report found.

This hefty tab is among the reasons American women are having fewer babies. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the total fertility rate for 2015—a calculation that measures the number of births the average woman will have during her lifetime—was at its lowest level in almost three decades. Millennials, who make up the bulk of child-bearing women, are waiting longer to get married, a shift that’s damping everything from single-family-home purchases to baby-goods sales.

For parents who want the best value, the USDA report points out that the more children parents have, the more their per-child cost diminishes (think packing two kids into one bedroom, and hand-me-down bicycles). Compared with a two-child family, couples with one child spend 27% more on the only child while those with three or more kids shell out 24% less on each little one.

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