A middle-income, two-parent family will spend $222,360, on average, to raise a baby born in 2009, according to a government estimate released today.
Yes, a number like that screams false precision. Still, some of the broad outlines that go into the estimate are pretty interesting:
- Housing is the most expensive part of raising a kid. It accounts for 31 percent of the cost, followed by childcare and education (17 percent) and food (16 percent).
- The annual cost rises a bit as the child gets older -- from less than $12,000 per year for a baby to more than $13,000 for a teenager.
- Among urban areas, the Northeast is the most expensive region to raise a child, and the South is the cheapest. Rural areas, which are lumped into a single category, are even cheaper.
- The cost per child for a two-child family is 25 percent lower than the cost per child for a one-child family.
Researchers broke household income into three levels: Less than $56,670; $56,670 to $98,120; and more than $98,120.
People in the lower-income group spend 25 percent of their before-tax income on a child; those in the middle-income group spend 16 percent; and those in the higher-income group spend 12 percent. But in absolute terms, spending increases with income.
The figures are adjusted for inflation, and costs are calculated through age 17.