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USDA: Last year's child will cost $234,900 to raise

A child born last year in a middle-income family will cost $234,900 to raise over the next 17 years or $295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in, according to a report issued today by the Agriculture Department.

The report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and issued annually since 1960, is used by courts and state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments. The report is based on data from the federal government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures.

For the year 2011, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,290 to $14,320, depending on the age of the child.

The report notes that lower income families will spend less on children and that there are geographic variations in the cost of raising a child, with expenses the highest for families living in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses.

An interactive web version of the report is available where families can enter the number and ages of their children to obtain an estimate of costs.