The Department of Agriculture released its annual report today on the average cost of raising a child from infancy though the end of high school. The dollar amount: $233,610 for married, middle-income parents might sound staggering to those not currently raising a child. But parents in many parts of the country will tell you that price tag is actually much higher.
One of the largest expenses is childcare, but the DOA's estimates are conservative for many Americans. A recent analysis from the Economic Policy Institute found that in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs more than in-state college tuition, and that child care costs as a percentage of total family budgets often exceed the affordability threshold established by the Department of Health and Human Services (and is near 30% of a family's income in some parts of the country). While the Department of Agriculture report helpfully states that the average cost of raising a child went down the more children a family had (think shared bedrooms and hand-me-downs), the cost of putting two children in daycare and/or after school care doubles a family's expense.
[Image: Wall Street Journal]
The high cost of childcare has a real impact on women's careers. Thanks to the persistent wage gap, women are often the lower earners and more likely to scale back or quit their jobs when the cost of childcare becomes untenable.
Sadly, the burden doesn't end once childcare is no longer needed: The cost of elder care is often well over $40,000 a year, and again, women are more likely to be the ones leaving work to care for aging parents.