Cost of raising a child in the West explored in new report. Spoiler Alert: it’s not cheap

Cities in the West are the second-most expensive place to raise a child after the Northeast, a new USDA report shows.

Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child's foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)
Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child's foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)
Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child’s foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)

Families in Colorado and the other 12 states that make up the West can expect to shell out more in child-rearing costs than the nation overall, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food, housing and other basic needs that children require are costing married, urban Western families between $175,950 and $235,140 depending on their household income. Cities in the West are the second-most expensive place in the country to raise a child after the Northeast, according to the report released this month.

The report only looks at raising a child from birth through age 17  in 2015 dollars — that means parents can expect to pay more if they plan to cover the growing cost of college for their child.

“The Cost of Raising a Child” doesn’t break out how much having more than one child costs or what single parents pay by region. On average, single parents spend less on children rearing.

Single parents with before-tax incomes less $59,200 on average spend $172,200 on a child. That’s compared to $174,690 spent by two-parent households in the same income bracket.

But kids might be a harder hit on singles’ wallets.

“Because single-parent families have one less potential earner, their total household income is lower and child-rearing expenses consume a greater percentage of income,” the report states.

An infographic from The 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report released Jan. 9, 2017. (Courtesy of the USDA)
An infographic from The 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report released Jan. 9, 2017. (Courtesy of the USDA)

There are a few head-scratchers in the report. For example, families with higher incomes can expect to spend more and on paper, it looks cheaper, per child, to have more children.

“There are significant economies of scale, with regards to children, sometimes referred to as the ‘cheaper by the dozen effect.’ As families increase in size, children may share a bedroom, clothing and toys can be reused, and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages,” said USDA economist Mark Lino, in a statement.

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Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was recently elected to the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.