Cost of Raising Children Jumps 22 Percent in 50 Years

Filed under: Work Life, In The News


If you're in your late 40s, it cost your parents approximately $183,000 to see you from birth to high school graduation.

Your own children will cost you about $222,000.

The Chicago Tribune reports fresh statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the cost of raising a child has jumped 22 percent -- taking inflation into account -- between 1960 and 2010.

That doesn't account paying for college, by the way.

In more precise numbers, department officials estimate it cost $182,857 to raise a child in 1960. Now it's $222,360.
The study -- "Expenditures on Children by Families" -- examines child-related expenses of 11,800 two-parent households and 3,350 single-parent households.

Child care and education costs represent "the most striking change in child-rearing expenses over time," according to the report. Those costs used to represent 2 percent of the cost of raising a child. Now they take 17 percent of the pie.

Health care costs also shot up -- more than double of what they were back in 1960.

And, of course, you have to feed the little darlings. But there's good news on that front: Adjusting for inflation, the cost of keeping kids in peanut butter and jelly has actually decreased over the past 50 years. According to the report, food now takes up a smaller percentage of the family budget.

Keeping a roof over everyone's heads, however, was the biggest single increase in costs.

You don't have to convince Meredith Rives of Evanston, Ill.

"We are looking to buy a bigger house but just haven't yet because it's cost-prohibitive," she tells the Tribune. "It's more important for me to stay home" to watch the kids.

Rives tells the newspaper she scours Amazon.com for diapers and buys almost no new clothes for her two children.

"I get hand-me-downs and shop at garage sales, mother's groups, rummage sales," she stells the Tribune. "If I buy retail, I never buy full price."

Lindsay Murphy of Skokie, Ill., tells the newspaper she and her partner may wait to see how well the economy rebounds before having another baby.

"While we want another child and very much want our children to be close in age, we just can't get comfortable with the additional expense in light of the economy," she tells the Tribune. "We'd rather be sure to have the resources to fully provide for our daughter than risk not having enough to go around and potentially depriving both children of any advantages."

Related: How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

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