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Cost of Raising a Child
Housing, food, and child care highest expenses
2013 kid
It actually costs less money to cloth a child born in 2013, than it did a child born in 1960. - photo by Photo Contributed

1960 versus 2013

• In 1960, average expenditures on a child in a middle-income, husband-wife family amounted to $25,229, or $198,560 in 2013 dollars

• By 2013, these estimated expenditures climbed 24 percent in real terms to $245,340 (assuming a family had child care and education expenses on a child).

• Housing was the largest expense on a child in both time periods and increased in real terms over this time.

• Food was also one of the largest expenses in both time periods, but decreased in real terms. Changes in agriculture over the past 50 years have resulted in family food budgets being a lower percentage of household income.

• Transportation expenses on a child increased about 9 percent in real terms from 1960 to 2013.

• Clothing and miscellaneous expenses on a child decreased as a percentage of total child-rearing expenses and in real terms from 1960 to 2013. Reduced real expenses on children's clothing is somewhat of a surprise given the popularity of many designer clothing items today, however, it is likely that technological changes and globalization have made clothing less expensive in real terms.



In their annual Expenditures on Children by Families report, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that the cost of raising a child born in 2013 will be $245,340, a 1.8 percent increase from last year. The report, also known as the Cost of Raising a Child, revealed that housing, child care, and food account for the three largest shares across income groups, comprising of 64 percent of total expenses.  

“In today’s economy, it’s important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future,” said USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments.”

As the largest child rearing expense since the report’s origin in 1960, parents can once again expect to allocate most of their money to housing expenses. Comprising of 30 percent of total costs, housing is an umbrella term consisting of shelter, utilities, and house furnishings and equipment. This can include anything from mortgage payments, electricity, and appliances that contribute to the overall care of a child.

With a total of 18 percent, the report revealed that the second largest expense for raising a child born in 2013 is child care and education expenses. Child care expenses include day care tuition and supplies, as well as baby-sitting. Education expenses take account of elementary and high school tuition, including books and supplies.

Coming in as the third largest child rearing expense is food at 16 percent of total child-rearing expenses. The food category includes both food and nonalcoholic beverages purchased at grocery or convenience stores, and also include purchases made with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called the Food Stamp Program. These expenses also include dining at restaurants and school meals.

Other significant expenses included in USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report are transportation expenses, health care, and clothing costs. 

In order to reach these results, USDA surveyed a sample of 11,800 husband-wife households and 3,350 single-parent households. Researchers used data from the 2005-2006 Consumer Expenditure Survey and updated estimates to reflect 2013 dollars by using the Consumer Price Index.

This data reflects the expenses of raising a child from the child’s birth up until the age of 17. Expenditures spent on the child that occur after the age of 17, including higher education, are not included.

To access the full Expenditures on Children by Families report for 2013, visit USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website at