According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs $234,900 on average to raise a kid. This is up from an inflation adjusted $191,000 in 1960. By the way, these numbers do not include college costs.
The chart below, from a Washington Post article on this topic, shows how this money is spent.
Not surprising is more people are citing this cost as the key reason they aren't having kids. The New York Times essay Opting Out of Parenthood, With Finances in Mind covers this growing trend. Key quote:
MOST people want to be sure that they can buy and pay for a home, save up for an emergency fund and enjoy a comfortable retirement... My husband and I, both in our late 20s, share those kinds of goals with others like us, but it seems obvious that the single decision that can best help us achieve them is one that many newly married, affluent young adults don’t usually consider: Don’t have children.
Another recent New York Times article, The Age of Possibility, also talks about this trend as well as the growing trend towards being single instead of married:
"The number of Americans who are living alone has shot up from 9 percent in 1950 to 28 percent today. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans said that children are very important to a successful marriage. Now, only 41 percent of Americans say they believe that. There are now more American houses with dogs than with children."
The changing American family is a powerful social trend. Put simply, the Ozzie and Harriet days of yore are long gone - so far gone that many readers (maybe most) won't even get this reference.
But the idea of marriage and kids ripples through our society and many of our social, economic, and business assumptions and institutions are based on a world where most people get married and have kids.
Obviously these assumptions are going to have to change. Just ask the Republican party.