Aug 19, 2022 - Economy

The cost of raising a child

Illustration of a paper cut family, with the child in the middle made of a dollar bill.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

It will cost $26,000 more to raise a child through high school today than it did just two years ago, a Brookings Institution estimate has found.

Driving the news: A married, middle-income couple with two children is likely to spend $310,605 — an average of $18,271 a year — to raise their youngest child born in 2015, per Brookings, which first shared the estimates to the Wall Street Journal.

  • That's 9% more than what was estimated based on the inflation rate two years ago.
  • "It's useful to remind people how much it's going to cost to raise a child. It's not exactly trivial," Brookings senior fellow Isabel Sawhill told Axios.
  • "And [parents] are going to either have to work harder or make other sacrifices in terms of what they consume."

Zoom out: Rising prices are likely to have disproportionate impacts on lower-income families that have already been cutting costs — and there's "nothing left to cut out," Muffy Mendoza, Pittsburgh mother of three, told the Journal.

  • "We’re cutting off the cable today because we can’t afford it," she said.

State of play: Inflation is cooling slightly, but food, housing, supplies and other daily expenses remain high.

  • That's on top of higher costs for child care arrangements.
  • The Brookings estimate is an inflation-era adjustment based on USDA figures from 2017.

Between the lines: The estimate — which doesn’t include college education or private education costs — assumes that the U.S. has entered a period of higher inflation, similar to 1980 to 1997.

The bottom line: "I think this is not going to be a major determinant of whether people have children or not, but I think it’s going to have an influence," Sawhill said.

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