Inflation is at a four-decade high, and it’s impacting many aspects of our lives—including the cost of raising a child. According to an estimate from American think tank the Brookings Institute, the cost of raising a child through high school has soared to more than $300,000. And that’s only through high school, and not accounting for putting kids through college!
A married, middle-income family with a kid born in 2015 is expected to spend $310,605, which comes out to an average of $18,271 a year. And again, that’s per child. Have more than one? Just keep multiplying by that number.
This calculation uses an older government estimate as a baseline, then adjusts according to inflation trends. The multiyear total is up $26,011, which is more than 9% higher than a calculation based on the inflation rate two years ago. This isn’t great news for parents who are already feeling the squeeze of inflation’s effects on other aspects of their life.
The estimate is based on a 2017 calculation from the US Agriculture Department that takes into account a range of costs, from housing, food, clothing, healthcare and child care, to hair cuts, diapers, toys, and things like sports equipment and dance lessons. Again, this doesn’t even include college costs once the child turns 18.
Of course, this is just an estimate. Though it’s still incredibly high, the annual inflation rate actually fell to 8.5% in July from 9.1% the prior month. The Federal Reserve has been making an effort to squelch inflation, but the results are uncertain.
“We know it’s very high right now, but we also know that the Fed is stepping on the brakes very hard and that it’s going to come down,” says Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brookings. “We don’t know how fast and to what level and how long it will stay somewhat elevated.”
Having kids is a major decision for every family, and the financial uncertainty that comes with ballooning costs makes that choice even more difficult. Though you may want more kids and envision a bigger family, the logistics of paying for all of it can make those decisions that much more complicated.
“A lot of people are going to think twice before they have either a first child or a subsequent child because everything is costing more,” observes Sawhill. “You also may feel like you have to work more.”
We have the data to back this up as well. The cost of raising a child is a big factor in a lot of mamas deciding not to have more than one. Our fifth annual State of Motherhood survey found the largest percentage of millennial and Gen Z moms ever saying they do not plan to have more children: 30% of moms in 2022 said they wanted another kid, which was down from 43% in 2020’s survey.
With a lack of systemic support for parental leave, child care, and a myriad of other things parents in America—especially mothers—this crunch hurts more than just our wallets.
Motherly designed and administered The State of Motherhood survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, Millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.