The Washington Post

5 charts that show why it costs nearly a quarter-million dollars to raise a kid today

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post mislabeled the second-largest spending category on children. It is childcare and education.

It will cost an average middle-income family nearly a quarter-million dollars to raise a child in 2013 to adulthood.

Food, housing, childcare, education and other expenses will total $245,340 by the time the child turns 18, the Department of Agriculture estimates in a new report. That is a 1.8 percent increase over the year before. In 2013 alone, the cost of caring for a child ranges from $12,800 to $14,970. The report relies on data from the Labor Department’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, a rich spending dataset.

Here’s a look at a few of the report’s takeaways:

The urban Northeast spends the most on raising a kid

The cost of raising a child. (USDA)

The cost of child-rearing is cheapest in rural parts of the country, where it will cost $193,590 to raise a child. Households in the urban Northeast are expected to spend nearly $90,000 more, making it the most expensive region for child-rearing with a $282,480 price tag.

Breakdown of cost of raising a child by region. (USDA)


Wealthy households spend more than twice as much as lower-income households

A family’s household income is associated with huge differences in the cost of raising a child. A family earning less than $61,530 will spent slightly more than $176,000 to raise a child born last year to adulthood. But a family earning more than $106,530 will spend nearly $408,000, more than twice as much.

Housing and childcare and education make up nearly half of all expenses

Breakdown of cost of raising a child. (USDA)
Breakdown of cost of raising a child. (USDA)

Housing is by far the biggest cost associated with child-rearing, accounting for 30 percent of the cost. Childcare and education, food and transportation follow at 18 percent, 16 percent and 14 percent.

But, as the chart below shows, some of those breakdowns change over time. Child care and education get cheaper as children become of age to attend school, while health care and food costs grow slightly over time.

Breakdown of cost of raising a child. (USDA)

The cost of child care and education grew nine-fold since 1960

The comparison chart below shows that the fastest-growing expense related to child-rearing since 1960 is child care and education, which accounted for just 2 percent of costs then and 18 percent today. Health care doubled to 8 percent and clothing shrank by nearly half to 6 percent. The share accounted for by food costs also shrank by a third to 16 percent.

How the cost of raising a child has changed since 1960. (USDA)
Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.