One More Thing to Keep Parents Awake at Night

P op Quiz for new parents: how much will it cost you to raise your newborn? 

According to a government study released last week (and reported on Planet Money, NPR’s finance blog), “a middle-income, two-parent family will spend $222,360, on average, to raise a baby born in 2009.”

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A couple interesting tidbits:

As one might expect, the cost to raise children goes up as they get older. But not by as much as you might expect: early years show costs at under $12000 per year; the costs for an average teenager veer over $13000.  It’s a jump, but when you think about all the clothes and the gadgets, not that great.  So maybe that new X-Box/iPad/dress they're asking for isn’t so unreasonable after all?

Two really is better than one: The cost per child for two children is 25 percent less than for one.  Have three and I'm told the fourth one comes free.  

And for those who think $222,000 depressingly doesn’t sound like nearly enough, take note, the report covers the costs only through age 17.  It doesn’t cover college.  

When you think about it, that’s about as useful as a lookout on the Titantic who describes in detail the tides, the waves, the condition of the water but decides not to mention the forthcoming iceberg.  

Down we go!  

Jim McDermott, SJ 


 

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James Lindsay
8 years 7 months ago
I suspect the biggest cost drivers are housing and medical care. The second and third children are more expensive because you can only put so many kids in a room and because after a certain age, children need to be segregated by gender.

This likely excludes the cost of daycare - which easily doubles it for young children (unless you assume that they can stay in the room with the parents). Of course, in some areas, daycare and housing are more expense, while in others they are less. This is a rationale for different figures for rural and urban areas (where housing is more expensive) and for various regions. It is also a rationale for much more generous refundable tax credits for each child at federal, state and city levels. Anyone who either works or goes to school full time (either for literacy or advanced education) should not have to worry about adding a child. A truly pro-life position is to make sure that the tax system supports having children (provided people are earning their own keep). Indeed, this would be the best way to solve the aging crisis in Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

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