In June of this year the Department of Agriculture published its annual report on the cost of raising a child in the United States. These studies form the basis for the quadrennial changes in support guidelines throughout the US. In 2011 the average cost of raising a child increased 3.5% over 2010. The data show that for the average American family having a child in 2011 the cost of raising that child in today’s dollars will be $234,000 or just over $13,000 per annum. This is the average for Americans earning $60-103,000. In constant dollars (which is to say on an inflation adjusted basis) the cost of raising a child has increased 18% since these studies were first compiled in 1960. Families earning more than that actually spent almost $400,000 on the same enterprise, a difference of 40%.
The report provides information broken down regionally and by cost category. The Northeastern US is the most expensive region in the United States. The highest component of that cost is housing. It absorbs 30% of the overall cost of raising a child. Child care and education is the next highest category, constituting 18% of combined cost. Food costs are 16%.
The full report is available on line at www.cnpp.usda.gov.