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It takes more than a village to raise a child

USDA puts costs of raising a child at $245,000

Published: Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 1:31 p.m. CST

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its annual report on the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17. The latest study puts the price of raising a child born in 2013 at more than $245,000.

While the report notes child rearing expenses can vary from household to household, other issues can factor into costs of child rearing. Number of children in a household as well the difference between a two-parent family and a single-parent family can affect the costs of child-rearing.

Income groups can also play a factor in child-rearing costs. According to the USDA survey, a child who is 1 year old in 2014 will cost $9,710 a year in a lower income household. The middle income household will see the same child cost $13,250 to raise, while in the highest household income, the child rearing costs skyrocket to $21,940.

One of the highest costs of raising a child is housing expenses. This portion can run from 30 to 33 percent of the average cost of raising a child. In middle income families, child care and education (for those families that have this cost) and food were the next largest expenditures. This counted for 18 and 16 percent of child rearing expenses respectively according to the USDA annual report.

It’s often the unexpected expenses which can cripple a family’s budget. In addition to gearing up for school bills, Matt Travis of Lostant is dealing with the added expense of medical bills after his son Trace fell out of his grandmother’s pool.

“With everything else, it’s crazy,” Travis said. “Schools are getting expensive. It’s tough.”

Expenses in raising a child often grow as the child gets older. The cost differences narrow as a child grows older, and the expense does not differ considerably between single-parent and two-parent households.

For two-parent families, it is most expensive to raise children in the urban Northeast areas of the United States. The next expensive region of the country was the West and urban Midwest. Families in the urban south and rural areas across the United States had the lowest child rearing expenses.

The survey also noted that two-parent households with a single child have expenditures on average of 25 percent higher. Households with three or more children on average come in at 22 percent less on each child.

There have been two areas of dramatic changes in the 53 years the survey has been published: health care and childcare/education expenses.

Health care expenses have doubled over the survey’s lifetime which strongly impacts child-rearing expenditures.

As society has changed since the 1960s, more expenses have crept into the daily budget. As the stay-at-home mom has changed into the mother in the workforce, daycare and pre-school fees have become the norm rather than the exception.

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