Your child, in dollars and cents

A USDA study concluded that it costs parents, on average, nearly a quarter-million dollars to raise their children from zero to 18.

A big part of this election is going to be about the future, about the economy... Which brings us to the economics of babies. Not at a national level, but an individual, personal-finance-y one. There's a new study out that shows the cost of sending an infant to daycare can be as much a sending a teen to an in-state college.

But even for people who come up with a less-expensive childcare options, kids aren't cheap. The USDA estimates the price tag for the first 18 years of a child's life is, on average, a quarter-million dollars. Chump change that is not. Dr. Mark Lino authored the USDA's study (PDF).

Although it may seem like babies have a lot of upfront costs involved, that period is one of the periods parents spend the least on their child. When do parents spend the most?

"Teenagers are the most expensive," Lino said. "They have high transportation costs; these are the years they start to drive, so you add them onto your auto insurance or buy them a second automobile. They also have high food costs, they need more food."

Lino said the study isn't done to discourage people from having children. Rather, the study is to help states set child support and foster care payments. And in some schools, to show teenagers how much children cost as a means to deter teen pregnancies.

Listen to the interview above to learn about more findings from the study.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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As we approach over-population and an inevitable inability to support the population (in the manner to which we have become accustomed), the 'right' to have a child might be something that needs a second thought.
Read David Suzuki's The Legacy

But maybe if people realized how much children cost, they might consider twice about having them.
Why? Because the direction that this country is going social security won't be around, and your pension will be sucked up by Wall Street. How are you going to survive when you get old? Spend a minimum of $9000 a year on someone else (a child) that may or may not care for you when you are old? Or, keep it for yourself and save it.

You know what the answer is....even if you want to have an emotional, mushy, hormonal, my clock is ticking (tick tick tick) response and say that you want the baby. You know should be saving every dime.

How are you going to survive when you get old if there's no new generation of doctors or nurses or even waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant? What are you imagining - a world where everyone's 80 years old and still doing the daily tasks of life? (Ha!)

But don't have a kid to support you in your old age. But maybe have a child to visit you in your old age and to teach and to learn from. My grandmother thought having us live with them when they were old and we were very young, kept her busy and active and useful. And we thought they were wonderful and wise and everything.

Family isn't always dollars and sense in the short term - but it's the most efficient way to keep a culture alive that human beings have come up with.

Unbelievable. The final step in turning human beings into commodities: what does one cost and why spend the money? Earning $180,000 a year is not enough to have a second child? Please. What a picture of greedy selfishness. And for your second couple - has she seen the film "Idiocracy" - or was she actually the blonde actress who played the wife in the upper middle class white couple who had to wait till it was economically feasible to have a child and then missed the boat. How laughable and pathetic! Granted, Marketplace is all about money, but this kind of focus does no one credit. How about interviewing some people who decided NOT to have children because of "the expense" and REGRET it. Or some who had a couple kids regardless and are happy.

And when today and tomorrow's kids cant get jobs like their parents and grand-parents had...There goes the pensions..Bye-Bye!!!

Gosh, I must have forgotten to have kids... while investing lifelong in an amazing international career, engagement in the arts and culture, world travel, healthy adult relationships, mentoring youth, community service and civic responsibility, a wholesome healthy lifestyle, a beautiful home and gorgeous garden, stretching toward serenity and dodging stress. Sigh. Maybe "next time."

Please look at the graphs before you comment. The amenities that you speak of represent a very small percentage of what was considered. So, not a quarter million if you don't buy your kids any toys, but $240,000.
Your comments are not really relevant, as that figure is just as daunting.

I think that you are giving people the wrong idea of what a child costs when
they are young. There is a difference between a babies needs and what our culture
sells to parents. The expectations to buy so many toys or 'accessories' are not
necessary purchases for a parent with an infant. If basic needs are being met such as diapering (cloth is cheaper),
feeding (breastfeeding is free), and minimal clothing. They can be fairly inexpensive
and to suggest that one needs to pay for so many other things is like (classes, toys ect) is
really disenchanting to everyday people that cannot afford such amenities.

Why not have kids?
1. Junk food
2. Kiddie advertising
3. Public school.

These roadblocks indicate that society does not really need more children. In industry, machines always replace people, and wages for labor depend on Supply and Demand, like anything else.

My parents acted stupid when they were young and spent the next 25 years complaining about the results. I don't have kids, never wanted kids, and don't regret it. There are enough nasty rotten people in this world already. Anybody who thinks that kids are a good idea should look at World War One, The Battle of Stalingrad, Auschwitz, or whatever. The next time you see an absoulute jerk, ask yourself: "Would I want to be responsible for the creation of that?" The next time you see someone using violence for the sake of religion ask yourself: "Who but the insane would give birth to that?" I suppose Hitler's mother thought she was doing something fantastic when she turned out a monster.

Since production of all sorts of things including new human bodies is too Expensive in the USA, the Job of making babies, raising and educating them will be OUTSOURCED, to nations where it is much cheaper to achieve this. - The US is already importing these products, new competent human bodies from foreign counties.
With time this trend will introduce new models of Un-american produced body models,
which can serve us as well as the home grown ones,
maybe even better and more efficiently..
Of course the nation will soon change its Racial and Ethnic signature, as well as its dominant Culture and language. The USA may soon become just another Latin American Nation, repopulated by cheeper made and qualified models from Latin America, or maybe even from Asia....
Going in a gay life style is also a solution to the extreme expense and difficulties in raising replacement human bodies in the USA, sort of sex without the threat of pregnancy and attachment to babies.

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