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U.S. data point of the day: What it costs to raise a child

August 4, 2009 |  3:51 pm

Something to remind your children when they're acting particularly ungrateful: The government calculates that a middle-income family will spend about $221,000 in current dollars to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood.

With estimated inflation, the figure rises to more than $291,000.

The data are in the latest annual Department of Agriculture report on family expenditures. The cost estimate includes typical spending for "food, shelter, and other necessities" until a child is 18, the government says.

The $221,000-per-child figure is for families with income between $56,870 and $98,470, according to the report. Rich kids (as we used to call them in the Midwest) will cost more: The average spending estimate in current dollars balloons to $366,660 per child for families earning more than $98,470.

Why does Uncle Sam feel compelled to provide these numbers? The Agriculture Department knows that some taxpayers will wonder, so it provides the answer in the second paragraph of its news release: "Issued by USDA each year since 1960, the report is a valuable resource to courts and state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments," it says.

-- Tom Petruno

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