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Earlier this week, we learned that median family wealth has fallen dramatically over the past several years, taking us back to levels not seen since the early 1990s. Now the Department of Agriculture (which for some reason studies these things) reports that the cost of raising kids from birth to the age of 17 has increased by some $8,000, to a whopping $235,000 for middle-income Americans. Great.
I’m not entirely sure why it’s the USDA that’s looking into the cost of raising kids. Kids aren’t veal, and as far as I know most parents aren’t planning to eat their children once they hit the age of 18. But the USDA has been issuing these reports since 1960, and they are used to develop guidelines for child support and foster care payments.
In calculating the cost of raising kids, the USDA considers expenses for everything from housing and food (the two biggest expenses) to education, health care, clothing, transportation, and so on. The estimates for this year are 3.5% higher than those from last year, mainly due to increases in the costs of gas, food, education and child care...