A study from LendingTree finds the costs of raising a young child have increased significantly, by nearly 20% from 2016 to 2021.
The study crunched numbers from the national and state levels through the most recent year that complete data was available.
The average annual cost to raise a child was $21,681 in 2021, up from an average of $18,167 in 2016. The most expensive state for parents in 2021 was Hawaii, where annual costs were $30,506. Mississippi was least expensive, where costs totaled $15,555. On average, these costs accounted for 19.1% of a family budget.
The estimated cost of raising a child to legal adulthood came in at $237,482.
In that five-year window, LendingTree found rent costs actually decreased by almost 18%, and the value of state tax credits offered to parents of children more than tripled to $3,600. But other child-rearing needs, including food, clothing, transportation, child care and health insurance, all got more expensive.
The group attributes the increases at least in part to inflation, which was relatively steady before 2020 but significantly increased in 2021.
The group recommends techniques to tackle the steep costs of raising kids, including finding cooperative arrangements for child care instead of paying professional services out of pocket, and taking advantage of support programs at the local, state and federal level, like childcare.gov.