By Jon Delano

WASHINGTON (KDKA) – Think a quarter of a million dollars to raise one child to age 18 and you won’t be far off.

“Bottom line: children are expensive,” says Dr. Mark Lino. “They have many benefits.  We don’t quantify the benefits, but they have many costs.”

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Lino, an economist, wrote the latest annual report for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and found, on average, it costs $233,610 to raise a child from birth to age 18, or about $14,000 a year.

It’s most expensive in the urban Northeast at $253,770,  and the cheapest in rural America at $193,000.

“Food, housing, and transportation are the major expenditures on children,” Lino told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday..

Housing — at 29 percent of the costs — is the largest single item, followed by food at 18 percent.

Childcare at 16 percent today is a big change from the 2 percent in 1960 when mothers stayed home because a single income could support a family.

Another big cost — health care.

“That’s doubled as a total share of the cost of raising a child, and as we all know health care costs have increased dramatically.”

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And remember the old days when kids just went outside to play — no computers, smartphones, video games — just a doll, a playhouse, or a ball and a bat.

The high cost of things for today’s kids adds up to 7 percent of the total cost.

And here’s a truth every parent knows.

“As children age, they become more expensive.  Teenagers are the most expensive.  They have high food costs because they eat more, and they also have high transportation costs.”

That’s especially true with car insurance when they start to drive.

One thing hasn’t changed.

It really is cheaper by the dozen.  The more children you have, the less costly each additional child becomes.

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