It’s no secret that caring for children is expensive, but the costs for some are continuing to climb. Not all families face the same financial barriers to parenthood; some have a greater number of hurdles to overcome. Preventive costs could be keeping some couples away from parenthood, despite wanting to expand and grow their families.
Average Costs Remain High
Child care and raising a family is inherently expensive, but costs have been continuing to increase. Salaries and wages nationwide have not increased at the rate needed to keep up with rising costs of living, meaning comparatively, parenting has become more expensive over time. In the first year of a baby’s life alone, an average middle-class family in the United States can expect to spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses. By age 18, the cost rises to, on average, $233,610 before adding in the cost of additional education after high school. For many, these numbers alone are enough to discourage parenthood; however, certain populations face even higher costs associated with raising children.
Costs Creating Barriers
For some populations, parenthood is even more difficult to achieve and pay for. Same-sex couples choosing surrogacy, for example, not only have to pay for raising the child; they also have to front the extreme costs of having the child in the first place. Surrogacy for same-sex couples typically costs anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000. While adoption is also an option, this includes other costs and fees that can prevent couples from raising children.
Additionally, families with tighter budgets, to begin with, might actually face more cost-related barriers than wealthier families. Medical expenses play into this, causing 1 in 5 U.S. children to go without dental care. Low-income families will often be relying on multiple incomes with both parents working, necessitating child care. When these couples can’t find a free or affordable guardian for their children in the form of a family member or friend, they’re forced to pay for child care professionals, which can put an additional strain on an already tight budget or force parents to make difficult decisions with regards to their careers.
Circumstances Increase Expenses
In the U.S., the cost of a divorce varies from $15,000 to about $42,500. Some circumstances can further increase the cost of parenting. For divorced or single parents raising children, travel costs become a factor, due to sharing custody and visiting children. When fathers and children live separately, 22% of fathers see their children more than once a week. Additionally, parents attempting to raise their children by themselves will be relying on a single income, putting further strain on finances.
Similarly, housing while supporting a child creates a significant expense involved with parenthood. It’s anticipated that home prices will continue to rise anywhere from 2 to 6% over the next few years, meaning single parents and parents on limited income will have increasing expenses to contend with.
Financial Status Impacting Futures
With many couples and families choosing to delay parenthood for the sake of avoiding expenses, it remains to be seen what the impact on the overall population will be. Unless parenthood becomes more affordable in the United States, many couples will either delay parenthood or skip having children altogether.