For Millennials, the Cost of Raising a Child May Not Be Worth It

February 27, 2019

By Carlo Versano

Kids are... expensive.

According to the USDA, the average total cost of one child over a period of 17 years ー from birth to adulthood ー is $233,610. Twenty-two percent of that cost is housing, followed by food (18 percent), and childcare and education (16 percent). And that doesn't take into account expenses like what Marketwatch's Jillian Berman refers to as the "cost of convenience": more takeout food, cabs, little things that save time when a kid is the priority: "It can really add up," she told Cheddar.

Meanwhile, the average U.S. birth costs $10,800. To put that in perspective, it costs $2,000 more to deliver a typical American baby than it cost to deliver the last royal baby, who was born in a $8,900-a-night maternity suite.

That's among the chief reasons many Americans are waiting longer to have children, according to a survey last summer in the NY Times. Indeed, the U.S. birth rate has been falling to a 30-year low, as many millennials of child-bearing age delay having families due to economic anxiety, the lack of paid leave, and the rising costs of child care.

Federal childcare subsidies made through the states only reach about 1 in 7 low-income children, Berman said. "It doesn't really reach as many families as advocates would like."

That was the genesis for Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren's universal child care proposal, in which related expenses would be limited to 7 percent of income and paid for by a tax on the wealthy. A proposal like that, if enacted into law, would help families because the most expensive part of parenthood is the early years, when childcare costs are high, Berman said.