There is one universal truth about child support: if you are paying it, it’s too much; if you are receiving it, it is not enough. I was reminded of this universal truth when the USDA released its report about how much it costs to raise a child these days.
The Department of Agriculture has been making these reports since 1960. Some of the information factors into child support guidelines when they are revised as they were in Florida in 2011. The information in the 2012 USDA report comes from data gathered in 2005-2006 and is updated to reflect 2011 dollars. The report details the expenditures needed to raise a child from birth to age 17.
The overall number released in news reports was that it costs $235,000 to raise a child born in 2011 to age 17. Like anything, however, you need to take a look at the fine print. The report shows a region difference in the cost of raising a child, with the South being the lowest cost region.
The USDA report also breaks out information for single-parent vs. two-parent (which they refer to as husband-wife) households. Single-parent homes spend about 7% less than two-parent homes on child-related expenditures. One important note for single parents is that because single-parent families have one less potential earner, their total household income tends to be lower and, as a result, child-rearing expenses consume a greater percentage of income.
Here’s some of the overall findings about the cost of raising children:
- the older a child gets, the more money parents spend on him/her
- most single parents make less than $60,000 and they spend less for child expenses than two parent households
- child-related expenses increase as parental income rises
- spending per child decreases as the number of children increases
No matter where the families live and regardless of single vs. two parent families or their income levels, the big four expenses were the same: education, child care, housing and food.
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