Today, roughly one in five women in the U.S. don’t have children.
A generation ago, it was common to see families with four or more children. But things are a bit different today.
Parents now have 2.4 children on average, a number that has remained fairly stable for two decades. In addition, since 1976, the share of mothers at the end of their childbearing years who have one child has doubled, from 11 percent to 22 percent.
While shrinking families may be based on many different factors, including postponing having children until later in life, the rising costs of raising kids may have something to do with it as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 has climbed to $233,610, which excludes the expenses of college. A 2011 article that appeared in the Canadian publication MoneySense estimated childrearing costs to be $12,824 per year, which adds up to $243,656 by the time a child reaches age 18.
It’s also well documented that more adult children are living with their parents for longer than kids used to stay with mom and dad. Pew Research has found that roughly one-third of women and half of men between the ages of 18 and 34 are still living at home, surpassing records set in the 1940s. This means expenditures on child-rearing may continue long after kids reach adulthood. As a result, it is easy to see how having multiple children can be a major source of financial stress for the average middle-income family.
The financial planning resource NerdWallet estimates that the cost of raising a child today is higher than the DOA figures, coming in at roughly $260,000 — and that is just for the basic essentials. Throw in tiered levels of care, including everything from more expensive choices for food and clothing, and extras for early childhood care, sports lessons, music instruction, and electronics/gaming, and the cost can get as high as $745,634.
Many different factors impact the size of modern families today, and the rising cost of raising children may be the most influential of such factors.