CBS News is reporting the average cost to raise a kid is $240,000 in the U.S. in 2013. But before you pick your jaw up off the ground, allow me to further blow your minds: That’s only until the kid is 18. If you send them to college, you may as well double that number. Consider my mind fully blown.
Kids are more expensive than they used to be (isn’t everything?). According to the USDA, raising children in 1960 was 23 percent cheaper. The cause behind that vacuum sucking the money out of your pocket is due to the rise in the cost of two things: healthcare and childcare. To illustrate the vast difference in costs between 1960 and today, consider this: Childcare and education accounted for only two percent of the cost of raising a child, whereas today, it accounts for 18 percent.
Are you shocked by these numbers? I’m not. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen numbers that show that the U.S. is way behind its developed counterparts in terms of supporting families in raising children. In fact, the U.S. consistently ranks below countries that offer subsidized healthcare and childcare, like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Australia.
Recently, the U.S. was ranked sixth, behind the aforementioned countries, in a survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that measured citizens’ happiness based on household income, employment, and life-expectancy rates. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Wrong. When you look at other studies that take into account factors that influence families, like maternal and infant healthcare, education, and childcare, the U.S. falls far below other developed countries. According to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report, the U.S. fell from number 25 down to 30 on this list. (Scandinavian countries, like Finland, again take the top awards). In fact, the report states that 1 in 2,400 women in the U.S. will die from a maternal cause, the same as Iran.
Paid maternity and paternity leave also factor into the equation. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid time off for new mothers. American companies aren’t required to offer paid paternity leave, and paid maternity leave is between 8 and 12 weeks, depending on the company. (Compare that with the U.K., which offers its citizens 280 days off at 90 percent pay, or even Bangladesh, which offers 16 weeks of paid leave.)
So the risks associated with having children and the cost of raising kids paint a daunting picture. Not only are our wallets feeling the squeeze, but it affects how we balance work and life, and ultimately, how satisfied we are as families. From what I’ve seen, we’ve got a ways to go.