With inflation at close to a four-decade high, it's becoming more expensive to do just about everything — including raising a child.
According to research from the Brookings Institution, it costs more than $300,000 to raise a child born in 2015 through to the end of high school. That breaks down to $18,271 per year and represents a 9 percent or roughly $26,000 jump from two years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported. The numbers are based on a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adjusted for inflation.
"People don't think much about the cost [of raising children]. One value of getting the $300,000 number out to the public is that it may make them think more carefully about having a child or another child." Isabel Sawhill. Ph.D., a senior fellow of economic studies at Brookings' Center on Children and Families and Future of the Middle Class Initiative, wrote in an email.
Inflation was up 8.5 percent year-over-year in July, which is down slightly from a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June. Those price hikes have impacted almost every part of Americans' lives. Grocery costs, for example, are up 13.1 percent over the past 12 months, according to the Consumer Price Index. Foods hit hardest in the month of July include non-alcoholic beverages, cereals, and bakery products.
Gas prices, a factor in family commuting, declined close to 8 percent in the last month, but prices are still up 44 percent year-over-year. The national average price of gas was just under $4 nationwide on Aug. 20, according to AAA.
And child care costs are some of the biggest expenses for families.
"The most important child-related expense is child care, which costs the average family around $12,000 a year," Sawhill wrote, adding that the expense can vary with the age of a child and if one parent is stay-at-home.
Families are likely adjusting for price increases in a number of ways, from cutting back on expenses to working more. One Pittsburgh-area mother interviewed by the Wall Street Journal said that she switched cell phone plans, cut down on eating at restaurants, and started shopping more locally.
Price increases also take a disproportionate toll on low-income families and families of color, piling onto the challenges more vulnerable communities already encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Lower-income families are more affected than higher-income because these costs loom larger in their budgets and they have less room to adjust," Sawhill wrote.