Econ Quiz: Cost of Raising Children

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July 2022

The USDA periodically issues a report on the cost of raising a child. In 2015, the latest year for which data is available, the standard married-couple family with two children and an income below $59,200 spent between $9,330 and $9,980 per child annually, depending on the age of the child. A middle income family spent $12,350 and $13,900 annually for each child in their household, and an upper income family earning more than $107,000 annually spent between $19,380 and $23,380 per child.

Single parents do not get a break on the cost of children, and they spend about the same amount of money on each child as married couples in their income brackets. However, there are some economies of scale with raising children. Married couples with only one child spent about 27% more per child than, and those with three children or more spent about 24% less per child than the standard or reference married couple raising two children. 

Location also affected the amount spent on raising children. Nationwide, the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 was $233,610 in 2015. Rural families across the nation spent an average of $193,202 to raise a child from birth through age 17. Families in the urban Northeast spent an average of $264,090, families in the urban south spent $232,050, and families in the urban west spent $245,460.

How much did the average family in the urban Midwest spend to raise a child from birth through age 17 in 2015?

A. $227,400

B. $193,020

C. $251,900

D. $234,000

E. $162,000


Answers: A. The cost of a college education was not included in the tally. Families who send their children to college spent an average of $20,000 on educating their young adult child if that child was enrolled in a public college or university and $45,370 if their child attended a private university.

Lino, Mark, et al. (2017). Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

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