A recently released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows it’s not quite as costly to raise a child in the Midwest as it is in other parts of the country. The agency reports it took between twelve-thousand-six-hundred dollars ($12,600) and fourteen-thousand-seven-hundred dollars ($14,700) to raise a child in 2012 depending on the child’s age. Dr. Robert Post is with the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “What we found in the period of 2011 to 2012 is that the cost related to health care, education, to child care as well as clothing actually increased,” Post says. “Those percentages increased and that constituted part of that 2.6-percent increase compared to (2011).”
That 2.6-percent increase was less that the average four-percent annual increase since 1960. Post credits smaller increases in costs related to housing, transportation and food in the period of 2011 to 2012. Mark Lino, an economist with the USDA, says costs also varied depending on where families lived. “We found that families in the urban Northeast spent the most on a child,” Lino says. “Where it was cheapest to raise a child, where families spent the least was in rural areas throughout the country. And the main reason for this was rural areas had the lowest housing costs.”
Kevin Concannon, the USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, is hoping that healthier eating programs will reduce the health care costs of raising a child in years to come. This past year we successfully deployed a new set of meal requirements that are healthier for children,” Concannon says. “Most schools made that adjustment pretty successfully. Many of them very quietly, but effectively, and we’re looking forward to year two now.”
In fact, for the first time in decades, the CDC reports that obesity rates are declining among some young children. Prior to joining the USDA, Concannon was director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.