Babies born to middle-income families last year are expected to cost their parents nearly a quarter million dollars through age 18, according to the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report on the Cost of Raising a Child Monday, revealing that a child born in 2013 can expect to run up a bill of $245,340 for food, housing, childcare and education, and other expenses until they become adults. Adjusted for projected inflation that cost is $304,480.
In the USDA’s analysis a middle income family makes between $61,530 and $106,540 a year.
The children’s expenses vary from region to region.
The lowest children costs for middle income families, according to USDA, are in the rural regions of the U.S. ($193,590) and the urban South ($230,610). USDA notes that the urban eastern is the most expensive place to raise a child ($282,480).
While the government data can help families plan for future costs, the government also uses the statistics to help with child support guidelines and foster care payments, according to USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.
“In today’s economy, it’s important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future,” Concannon said in a statement.
The 2013 costs represent a 1.8 percent increase over the costs the USDA determined a child would incur if born in 2012.
According to USDA, while 2013’s costs are higher, the percentage spent on each facet of life — housing, food, care, etc — remained the same with housing costs (30 percent of the total costs) representing the largest expenditure, childcare and education following (18 percent) and food representing the third biggest cost category (16 percent).
“Variations by geographic region are marked when we look at housing, for example,” USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) economist Mark Lino and the study’s author said. “The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest. It’s interesting to note that other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost.”
USDA highlighted that for families making less than a middle income family, child costs are slightly lower at $176,550. For families making home above a middle income salary the cost is about $407,820.
USDA based its cost conclusions on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Expenditure Survey. It further noted that the more children a family has the less each child costs thanks in part to hand-me-downs, bulk purchases, and shared bedrooms.