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The 'Millennium Baby' Will Not Come Cheap

Spending: The cost of raising a child rose again last year. A typical middle-income family will shell out $156,690 over the next 17 years.

April 23, 1999| From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Couples who are attempting to create the "Millennium Baby" may want to think again.

The cost of raising children rose again in 1998 as parents spent more money on housing, child care, education and food, according to a report released by the government on Thursday.

Middle-income, two-parent families will spend $156,690 over the next 17 years for a child born in 1998, up from $153,660 in 1997, the U.S. Agriculture Department said in its annual study. When factoring in inflation, parents will spend $240,000.

Low- and high-income families also will spend more money raising children born last year, the report showed. Low-income families will spend $115,020 for each child, up more than $2,000 from 1997. Children born in high-income families last year will cost $228,690, up $4,000 from 1997.

In 1960, the first year the department started tracking the figures and when most mothers stayed at home, parents could expect to spend $25,229 to raise a child.

For the average family, housing costs represent about a third of the expense of raising a child. Food was the second-largest expense, representing nearly one-fifth of the child-raising bill.

The most expensive place to raise children is in the urban West, followed by the urban Northeast and South, the report said.

And children get more expensive as they get older. For middle-income families, parents will spend $9,340 per year in 1998 dollars when their children are between 15 and 17, $1,000 more than for children from birth through age 2.

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