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The cost of raising a child is over $300,000

A Brookings Institution report says inflation is making a family even more expensive

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Photo (c) Bogdanko Sanovic - Getty Images
Ready to start a family? Better beef up your bank account. Analysts at the Brookings Institution analyzed all the financial data associated with raising a child from birth in 2015 to age 17.

The price tag? More than $300,000.

The analysts used a typical married, middle-income couple with two children as an example. Using an earlier government estimate and adjusting it for inflation, they estimated the couple would spend over $310,000 on the younger child – an average of $18,271 each year.

If that sounds like a lot of money, the analysts say inflation has boosted the estimated cost by 9% over the last two years. The costs include the basics – things like food, medical care, and clothing. 

But it also includes things like child care, sports and other activities, haircuts, and even a share of housing costs. The new price tag was derived from a 2017 estimate from the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Parents currently doing their back-to-school shopping may be feeling the full effects of the rising cost of raising a child. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates families will spend $864 on school supplies this month, about $15 more than last year.

While children have always been an added family expense, the Brookings analysts say inflation has significantly increased the cost, especially for families living paycheck to paycheck. The result could mean a dip in population.

‘A lot of people are going to think twice’

“A lot of people are going to think twice before they have either a first child or a subsequent child because everything is costing more,” Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brookings, told the Wall Street Journal. “You also may feel like you have to work more.”

The worry for young families may lie in where inflation goes from here. According to the U.S. Labor Department, inflation hit 9% in June before falling back to 8.5% in July. But the prices for groceries were up 13.1% last month, putting a special burden on large families.

As parents of many adult children will attest, the spending doesn’t always stop when a son or daughter reaches age 17, especially if they seek a college degree. NRF said total back-to-college spending is expected to reach nearly $74 billion, up from last year’s record of $71 billion – the highest in the survey’s history. 

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