It Now Costs More Than $300,000 to Raise a Child

Portrait of family keeping their hands one another at home

Like everything else in the United States, soaring inflation is pushing the cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 to astronomical heights.


The Wall Street Journal commissioned the Brookings Institute to find out just how expensive it is to raise a child now. Brookings looked at average married, middle-income couples with two children. Researchers found that the cost to raise a child born in 2015 through high school will cost $310,605. That’s approximately $18,270 a year, a 9% increase from the previous estimate.


Brookings used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s last Expenditures on Children by Families Report in 2017 and updated it to account for the high inflation rates in the U.S. today. By the USDA’s last count, the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 was $233,610, but that was with the expectation that inflation would be around the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2%.


To account for interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, Brookings looked back at trends from the last time inflation was this high in the 1980s. It assumes average inflation of 4% going forward in the life of a child born in 2015.


The consumer price index is hovering near a 40-year high. The Labor Department’s latest data shows the consumer price index climbed 8.5% in July from the previous year but slowed from the 9.1% rate recorded in June.


Keep in mind, these figures are only for the years birth through age 17. It does not take into account the additional cost of paying for a child to go to college.  According to


  • The average cost of college* in the United States is $35,551per student per year, including books, supplies, and daily living expenses.
  • The average cost of college has more-than doubled in the 21stcentury, with an annual growth rate of 8%.
  • The average in-state student attending a public 4-year institution spends $25,707for one academic year.
  • The average cost of in-state tuition alone is $9,377; out-of-state tuition averages $27,091.
  • The average private, nonprofit university student spends a total of $54,501per academic year, $37,641 of it on tuition and fees.



*College refers to any 4-year postsecondary institution that offers an undergraduate degree program; this is the average cost to first-time, full-time undergraduates.


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