The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. So it’s no wonder the growing crop of Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing ways to address or bring down the costs tied to raising a family.
Most recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she wants to provide universal access to child care. According to her proposal, the U.S. would partner with local governments and other organizations to provide various child care options, paying for it with revenue from her wealth tax.
Whether or not Warren’s proposal becomes law, the data show a worsening problem. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8 percent from 1990.
As a mother myself, as well as a sociologist who studies families, I have experienced firsthand the unexpected costs associated with having a child. And this spike in costs has broad implications, including leading fewer families to have children.
Labor and delivery
The overall costs of labor and delivery vary from state to state.
Expenses for a delivery can range from $3,000 to upwards of $37,000 per child for a normal vaginal delivery and from $8,000 to $70,000 if a C-section or special care is needed.
These costs are often a result of separate fees charged for each individual treatment. Other factors include hospital ownership, market competitiveness and geographical location.
It’s worth noting that these costs often include additional fees for ultrasounds, blood work or high-risk pregnancies.
As a result, for women who are concerned about the costs related to giving birth, it’s important to explore the average costs at their local hospitals and review their insurance plans before they decide to become pregnant.
Child care and activities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deems child care affordable if no more than 10 percent of a family’s income is used for that purpose. However, parents currently spend 9 to 22 percent of their total annual income on child care, per child.
Child care has become one of the most expensive costs that a family bears. In fact, in many cities, child care can cost more than the average rent. This is particularly challenging for low-income families who often do not make more than minimum wage.
What’s more, Americans now view childhood differently. Whereas, in the past, children often engaged in family labor, now children are protected and nurtured.