Costs of Raising a Child in the US Are Higher Than Ever

The Department of Agriculture reports that the estimated cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610, or as much as almost $14,000 annually. That sum is the average for a middle-income couple with two children. This estimate is based on 2015 numbers, so a baby born this year is likely to cost even more.

The main costs include housing, food, transportation, healthcare, education, clothing, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Here are the things you need to know and plan for when it comes to the costs of raising a child:

Housing Is Expensive

Up to a third of the total cost is housing, accounting for 26 to 33 percent of the total expense of raising a child. USDA estimates the annual housing cost per child in urban areas is $3,900, while it’s $2,400 in rural areas.

Child Care Costs Have Risen

After housing, child care, education, and food are the highest costs for families. For a middle-income couple with two children, food costs make up about 18 percent of the cost of raising a child. Child care and education costs make up 16 percent. Education costs have sharply risen since 1960 when USDA estimated that those expenses were around 2 percent of child-rearing expenses. The report says this growth is likely due to the increased number of women in the workforce, prompting the need for more childcare. The numbers don’t even include the annual cost of college, which the government estimates are $45,370 for a private college and $20,090 for a public college.

More Kids, Lower Costs

There is some good news for big families. Families with three or more children spend an average of 24 percent less per child. USDA says that’s because children often share bedrooms in bigger families, clothing and toys are handed down and food can be purchased in larger and more economical packages. Also, private schools and child care providers may offer sibling discounts.