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Good Graph Friday: The kids cost more than they used to

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2010

We know raising kids seems like a bigger stretch than in previous generations, and now here’s proof.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recently released 2010 report on the cost of raising a child includes a comparison with what it cost to raise a child in 1960, versus today.

The verdict: In 50 years, kids have gotten 22 percent more expensive to raise.

The USDA says the average cost of raising a child in 1960 was $25,229, or $185,856 in 2010 dollars.

Last year, the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 was $226,920.

The calculations are based on the U.S. average for raising a child in a middle-income, husband-and-wife family. The report cautions that the two estimates are not precisely comparable because of recent changes in the methodology for calculating child care costs, but adds that a general comparison is possible.

The estimates do not include college expenses.

The biggest culprits in the cost increase were health care costs, as well as child care and education expenses. Both categories increased in real terms and as a percentage of total child-rearing expenses.

The child care expenses have increased in part because more moms are now in the workforce.

The cost of food is still a major part of the cost of raising a child -- as any parent well knows -- but it has actually decreased in real terms since 1960. Clothing expenses also have decreased in real terms.

Are you curious how much your child -- or potential child -- could cost you? The new report also includes a handy customizable calendar that lets you estimate how much your child care expenses might be. The calculator factors in such things as geographic area, number of kids and household income.