Inflation's damage is being felt not just one loaf of bread or gallon of gas at a time, but in big-picture expenses—such as the cost of raising a child. A new Brookings Institution estimate puts the total for raising a child through age 17 at $310,605. The estimate is based on government data, with the effects of inflation added on, for a married, middle-income couple with two children, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's 9% higher than the estimate two years ago, before prices took off, though it leaves out college. "A lot of people are going to think twice before they have either a first child or a subsequent child because everything is costing more," said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brookings.
Or parents might decide they have to work more, Sawhill said. Reducing expenses sounds like it would help, but many families already have hit that wall. "Switching cellphone plans, cutting back on eating out, helping your neighbor, buying from your local grocery store, your local farmers market," a woman in Pittsburgh with one son said. "When you've done all those things naturally just to survive, you've run out and you've exhausted all of that." The estimate, based on a child born in 2015, considers costs such as housing, food, clothing, health care, child care, diapers, haircuts, sports equipment, and dance lessons, per the Journal.
The study did not factor in race, but research has found Black families are hurt more by volatility in prices. Sawhill said lower-income families are affected by inflation more than wealthier people, per the Hill. Overall, she said, skyrocketing prices have made it "a greater burden than it used to be to have children." One woman who just canceled her cable TV service said she and her husband had to call off an annual weeklong gathering at her home of the boys in her family: her three sons and their cousins. "It costs a lot to feed almost 10 boys," she said. (Read more raising children stories.)