It's not cheap to raise a child in the U.S. The typical American parent expects to spend around $348,000 per kid over the course of their lifetime, according to wealth management company Personal Capital's 2018 Affluent Family Finances Report.
For wealthy families, that total can be twice or even three times as much.
While 65 percent of rich families say they plan to spend a minimum of $233,000 per child, the total is often significantly more, Personal Capital reports. Over their lifetimes, wealthy parents expect to spend an average of $711,000 per child.
That number varies by region. In the Northeast, affluent parents expect to spend a whopping $996,000 to per kid, which is nearly three times as much as the typical middle-income family.
In the Midwest, wealthy families expect to spend $667,000 per child. On the West Coast, they plan to shell out around $579,000 and, in the South, $581,000.
The survey included responses from 500 affluent parents, ages 18 and older, whose total investable household assets amount to $500,000 or more.
Part of the disparity comes from the fact that affluent parents are willing, and, more importantly, able to invest in their children's education. More than 60 percent report that they plan to spend on education between kindergarten and senior year of high school. And a full 70 percent of survey respondents say they plan to pay for their kids to go to college.
"If the affluent parents went to college themselves, they may put more value, and thus prioritize, a college education," Michelle Brownstein, vice president of private client services at Personal Capital, tells Make It.
Middle-income parents also recognize the importance of education, though, Brownstein says. Like affluent parents, they're most willing to help their kids pay for the same three things: College, their wedding and medical expenses.
For many families, unfortunately, the cost of college has soared out of reach so, if students want to pursue higher education, they end up burdened with loans for years. Upon graduation, the average borrower owes more than $37,000, a $20,000 increase since 2005.
The situation can also be bleak for parents who take out loans to help pay for a child's education. The average parent with PLUS loans, which are federal loans parents can use to help their kids, has a balance of $25,600, and those with loans for multiple children can owe far more.
These numbers highlight the growing problem of income inequality in the U.S. In 2015, the top 1 percent of families earned more than 25 times as much as the bottom 99 percent, according to a 2018 paper from the Economic Policy Institute. While the U.S. overall has experienced economic growth and low levels of unemployment, wage growth has largely remained stagnant for everyone except those at the top.
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