The USDA has just released their annual report (issued annually since 1960), "Expenditures on Children by Families". finding that:
- A middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 ($295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in*) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.
- For the year 2011, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,290 to $14,320, depending on the age of the child.
- A family earning less than $59,410 per year can expect to spend a total of $169,080 (in 2011 dollars) on a child from birth through high school.
- Similarly, middle-income parents with an income between $59,410 and $102,870 can expect to spend $234,900.
- A family earning more than $102,870 can expect to spend $389,670.
For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging $70,560 or 30 percent 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 percent of the total cost over 17 years. These estimates do not include costs associated with pregnancy or the cost of a college education or education beyond high school.
Child care and education expenses consist of day care tuition and supplies; baby-sitting; and elementary and high school tuition, books, fees, and supplies. Books, fees, and supplies may be for private or public schools. However, according to the report, child care and education was the only budgetary component for which about half of all households reported no expenditure.
Without a free public education, the educational expense of raising a child would be the number 1 expense by far. Consider that in Ohio, the per student public school cost is ~$10,000. That would cost the typical 2 child family $20,000 per year, for a total of ~ $260,000 for the entire K-12 education - more than the total expense the USDA reports for raising a child!
It's hard to imagine a greater bargain that that.
Here's a look at how costs have changed since 1960
Expenditures on Children by Families, 2011