The Cost of a Family

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Dec 23, 2010    •    677 Views

The cost of having a family has gone up and it has gone down.

In its annual report on the average cost of raising a child in a middle income family, the Department of Agriculture said from 2008 to 2009, the amount has risen by 1%. A child born during 2009 is projected to cost $222,360 during its first 17 years.

Looking at cost slightly differently, a recent report from Harvard tells us that some women are experiencing less of a cost in pay and flexibility when they select work and family. Summarized by the NY Times, the report says that technology related professions have the lowest “mommy penalties” and certain medical specialties come next. By contrast, the corporate and financial world lags.

Still though, this report on wage trajectories for middle income women who work outside the home shows a flattening at child bearing. The overall wage loss during a lifetime is estimated at close to 30%.

The Economic Lesson

The opportunity cost of a decision is the next best alternative that is sacrificed.  We might say then that the opportunity cost of working and motherhood is working and not having children. Higher income and job promotions is what many working mothers sacrifice.

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