The Corner

The Affordability of Children

Kids obviously can and do cost a lot. But I’m not so sure about that study — other than its ability to freak people out about having children. A pro-population control blogger, in fact, wrote about a previous USDA study, raising seemingly legitimate questions about their numbers:

The claims about the cost of raising children are, in my opinion, simply nonsense. First of all, the USDA did not measure what it costs to raise a child, but rather what parents of differing income levels actually spend. There is an important difference between the two.

Second, the methodology behind the USDA, is goofy, as even its own study notes. For example, the largest part of the “cost” of raising children in that $200,000 estimate is more than $53,000 for housing costs. How did the USDA arrive at that figure? It simply assumes that if a couple has two children and a house valued at $200,000, then each family member incurs $50,000 in housing costs,

“Unlike food and health care, no research base exists for allocating estimated household expenditures on housing, transportation, and other miscellaneous goods and services among family members. USDA uses the per capita method in allocating these expenses; the per capita method allocates expenses among household members in equal proportions. A marginal cost method, which assumes that expenditures on children may be measured as the difference in

total expenses between couples with children and equivalent childless couples, was not used

because of limitations with this approach.”

Since there’s no agreed upon methodology, the USDA simply went with one that will produce the highest possible housing costs value. Children certainly incur large costs, but the USDA figures are used inappropriately by Longman to exaggerate just how large the economic burden of children is to a typical family.

Maybe you’d stay in an apartment if you didn’t have your child, but you might decide you want a house with or without him. It doesn’t seem right to “blame” the kid for the costs.

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