Raising a child? That'll be $234,900

Tiffany Hsu / Los Angeles Times /


LOS ANGELES — Children: They bring you untold joy and hope for the future. They also cost $234,900 each to raise. And that doesn’t include college.

Kids are an increasingly expensive proposition, with expenses up 3.5 percent last year from 2010, according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It may seem odd that a government agency that usually concerns itself with the price of corn and salmonella outbreaks has studied child-rearing costs since 1960. But the numbers are key to courts and state governments, which use them to determine child support guidelines and foster care payments.

To bring up a kid from birth until age 17, not counting the cost of pregnancy, involves housing, food, education, clothing, transportation, health care and more.

Depending on the youngster’s age, parents can expect to pay $12,290 to $14,320 a year keeping him or her clothed, fed and housed. (For what it’s worth, the first year owning a large dog, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is estimated to be $1,843.)

Of course, the cost of parenting varies based on a variety of factors, includiong income levels, geography and, family size.

A family earning less than $59,410 a year will shell out $169,080 on each kid. Middle-income moms and dads spend $234,900. Wealthier families earning $102,870 or more will devote $389,670 to their offspring.

Raising children in the urban Northeast and West areas is most expensive.

Having more children means less cost per child because siblings share bedrooms, clothing and toys. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less on each kid than parents with a brood of two or fewer.