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Costs Of Raising Children Grows, And Health Care Is A Big Reason

What’s the matter with kids today? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they’re more expensive.

Photo by golo via Flickr

The USDA released its annual report Thursday on how much it costs to raise a child. The grand total for a child born in 2011 is $234,900 — $295, 560 if inflation is factored in — for all child-related expenses, from birth to age 17. That’s a 3.5 percent increase over last year.

The USDA has been keeping track of this since 1960. In that time, how parents have spent their money has changed. One of the two main drivers of the increase is health care costs, which include health insurance premiums not paid by an employer as well as doctors’ visits and prescription drugs not covered by insurance. In 1960 health care costs represented 4 percent of all child-rearing expenses. This year, it represents 8 percent.

However, that’s nothing compared with the exploding cost of education and child care. Spending in that category has gone from 2 percent of child-rearing costs in 1960 to 18 percent now. (On the plus side, the cost of feeding a child has gone down significantly.)

The USDA report also found a disparity in child health care expenses between single-parent families and two-parent families. It estimates that single-parent families with a pre-tax income of $59,410 will spend almost 10 percent less on health care for their children than their two-parent counterparts. On the other hand, it estimates single-parent families who earn more than this amount will spend almost 9 percent more than married parents.