From this article in the New York Times, it turns out that calculating how much parents spend on their children is not one-formula-fits-all. The amount spent depends on the income level of the parents.
- Low-income parents (who earn less than $60,640 annually) spend about $173,000 from birth through high school.
- Middle-income families (earning between $60,640 to $105,000) spend about $240,000.
- High-income families (bring in more than $105,000 each year) spend nearly $400,000.
Therefore, this report from the USDA doesn't so much show how much it costs to raise kids, but what is NOT spent on some children, particularly on those growing up in poverty.
The difference between children from the lowest and highest income groups is about $12,000 per year. So, those children are missing out on $12,000 of resources, opportunities, and benefits. At the least, they are dependent on others (outside of their parents) to provide them.
It's not that children from low income families cannot succeed. But when you look at the bigger picture, it becomes obvious that the well-resourced families can provide better opportunities for their children, who in turn are able to provide better opportunities for their children. And so on and so forth.
"When you look at the forest, rather than at the trees, financial statistics like these do reflect different outcomes for the children whose experiences they shape: true economic mobility is becoming more a pipe dream than the American Dream, and children are likely to stay within the income category to which they are born."
For additional reading, check out these posts from my other blog:
**image courtesy of Nick Nguyen via flickr