The Price of Parenthood

USDA Quotes the Cost of Child-Rearing in 2008

In 2007 Monique Thompson, a sophomore at Howard University, became the proud mother of Andrew, her now one-year-old son. Many students drop out of school to work and provide for their child; however Thompson, unlike many of her contemporaries, decided to continue her education.

Although she would like to have her son with her all the time, she said, “It’s easier for him to be home with my mother while I do my school work, but I go home at least twice a month.”

How can Thompson afford to take care of her son and still be a full time student? “He’s on Medicaid until I get my own insurance,” she explained. Thompson, along with some help from her mother, spends between $600 to $800 a month on diapers, wipes, clothes and food alone. When the baby is of age, day care can add an additional $1000 each month.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a recent release that middle class families can expect to spend $204,060 on raising a child born in 2007 until he or she turns 18. USDA said that if inflation is factored into this amount, the average middle class family can expect to spend as much as $269,040 per child. Both of these amounts include food, clothing, shelter and other necessities, which unfortunately, do not include college tuition.

According the USDA report, the cost of providing food has decreased by seven percent – from 24 to 17 percent – of total child-rearing costs, while the costs of child care and education have increased by 10 percent. Despite the seven percent decrease, this can still prove to be a major economic problem.

Howard University economics professor Gwenell Bass said, “If people don’t have enough money for human capital, the lower class can always get grants. On the other hand, the middle class is going to have to borrow money.” Therefore, while some people can manage to get by, others can end up paying more due to interests on loans.

The increases in child care and education costs can prove beneficial to children, according to the No Child Left Behind Act . This act includes increases in local, state, and federal funds, which in turn will increase the money invested into the education system. However, as government investment in education increases, the fiscal status of the school district determines how much families actually benefit.

The rise in child-rearing expenses was expected by some parents, Thompson being one of them. The relatively new mother stated, “I believe I will eventually pay that much for my son; the price is going up. I’ll still probably have more children; not any time soon, but I will.” Rhonda Bryant, proud mother of three, has experienced this rising cost first hand. Over a span of 14 years, she and her husband have watched their spending on their children increase.

Placing their eldest child in public day care in 1994 cost them nothing. But in 2002, daycare for their second child cost them $140 per. Now, in 2008, Bryant and her husband pay $230 each week to keep their youngest in day care.

The cost of daycare alone for two children at $230 per week, would result in an almost $2000 monthly daycare bill. Annually, that adds up to about $24,000 for daycare.

Bryant stated, “Moose [Bryant’s husband] wanted to have 5 kids; he wanted a whole basketball team. But it costs too much to have any more.”