Thinking about having a child? Check your balance sheet.
The Department of Agriculture estimates that an infant born in 2015 to a middle-income, married-couple family will end up costing between $12,350 and $13,900 each year — or $233,610 from birth to age 18.
The expenditures on a child in 2015 represented a three percent increase over the cost in 2014. To be sure, 2015’s increase was lower than the historic annual rate increase of 4.3 percent.
The USDA’s projections are included in its 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report, released Monday. The report also looks at the cost estimates for children born to lower- and upper-income families. According to the USDA, lower-income families are projected to spend $174,690 and higher income families are expected to spend $372,210 on children born in 2015 to age 18.
Broken down by category, housing (29 percent) represented the largest portion of child-rearing expenses for middle-income, married families. Food (18 percent) was the second biggest portion of families’ child-rearing budget, followed by childcare/education (16 percent), transportation (15 percent), and health care (9 percent). Clothing accounted for 6 percent and miscellaneous costs made up 7 percent of child-rearing expenses.
“When CNPP first issued this report in 1960, housing and food were the two highest expenses, just as they are today,” Angie Tagtow, executive director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said in a statement. “But while housing costs have increased over time, changes in American agriculture have resulted in lower food costs, and family food budgets now represent a lower percentage of household income.”
To be sure, the costs of a child varied greatly depending on their age, with expenditures increasing as the child gets older.
“For all three income groups, food, transportation, clothing, and health care expenses on a child generally increased as the child grew older,” the report reads. “Transportation expenses were highest for a child age 15 to 17, possibly because he or she would start driving or be involved in more activities further away from the home. Child care and education expenses were generally highest for a child under age 6. Most of this expense may be attributed to child care prior to full day school.”
Child-rearing costs also varied regionally — due largely to housing expenses — with the highest costs occurring in urban areas in the Northeast, West, and South. Costs were lowest in urban and rural areas of the Midwest.
According to USDA, the report provides information state governments use to set child support and foster care guidelines.
“This report, which we have produced for 55 years, gives families a greater awareness of the expenses they are likely to face, and serves as a valuable tool for financial planning and educational programs, as well as courts and state governments,” Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said in a statement.