PUBLISHED: 22:48 EST, 14 June 2012 | UPDATED: 00:17 EST, 15 June 2012
For $235,000, you could indulge in a shiny new Ferrari — or raise one child for 17 years.
A government report released Thursday found that a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about that much in child-related expenses from birth through age 17. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010.
The number only accounts for expenses before a child’s 18th birthday. It doesn’t include the cost of college or the money parents spend on ‘boomerang kids’ who move back home because they can’t find a job.
Costly: Babies are expensive, but teenagers cost much more, according to a government report on the price of raising a child
The report from the Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion said housing is the single largest expense, averaging about $70,500, or 30 percent of the total cost.
Families living in the urban Northeast tend to have the highest child-rearing expenses, followed by those in the urban West and the urban Midwest. Those living in the urban South and rural areas face the lowest costs.
To raise a child in New York City or Boston, the average cost is $270,000. Rural families spend $184,000, on average.
The estimate also includes the cost of transportation, child care, education, food, clothing, health care and miscellaneous expenses.
Bundle of joy: The $235,000 price tag only includes raising a child to his or her 18th birthday. It doesn’t count the sky-high cost of college tuition or the expenses of ‘boomerang children’ who move back home
Cost increase: Childcare and education expenses have increased dramatically since 1960, when most mothers stayed home and looked after their children full-time
The USDA has issued the report every year since 1960, when it estimated the cost of raising a child was just over $25,000 for middle-income families. That would be $191,720 today when adjusted for inflation.
Housing was also the largest expense in raising a child back in 1960. But the cost of child care for young children — negligible 50 years ago — is now the second largest expense as more moms work outside the home.
The report considers middle-income parents to be those with an income between $59,400 and $102,870. It says families that earn more can expect to spend more on their children.
The cost per child decreases as a family has more children. The report found that families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than those with two children.
The savings result from hand-me-down clothes and toys, shared bedrooms and buying food in larger quantities.
Worth it? A middle class family could buy a 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia if both parents saved all the money they would have spent raising one child
Regional differences: It costs much more for a family to raise a child in a city like New York or Boston than it does for parents to bring up kinds in a small town