When we think about the cost of children, the dollar first comes to mind. However the total is much higher when we quantify the stress.
Where are we going? To what it costs a family to develop a child’s human capital.
The Dollar Cost of a Child
For 2013, the most recent cost figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate we spend an average of $245,340 per child. (The infographics are from the USDA.)
What we spend depends on the age of a child:
Also, based on where you live, costs vary.
As for the specifics, you can see housing occupies the biggest slice of the spending pie.
However, if we add in college, the totals can skyrocket.
Keeping in mind that an economic definition of cost is sacrifice, we better add the cost of stress when we tally what we “pay” for our children..
The Cost of Stress
According to “The Stress Cost of Children” (May 2015), the hours that parents allocate to children create stress. The data researchers used came from surveys in Australia and Germany with questions that asked, for example, “How often do you feel rushed or pressed for time.” The answer could have been “almost always,” “often,” “sometimes,” “rarely” and “never”.
In the following graphs from the paper, you can see time stress soar especially for women after a child is born and then decline when that child leaves the household.
Australia: After the birth:
Australia: After child’s departure:
For Germany the results are similar.
Our Bottom Line: Human Capital
What it costs a family to develop a child’s human capital includes money and stress — and as we saw in this econlife post, women’s sacrificed career opportunities.