In Most States, Infant Care Costs Exceed College Tuition

Thursday, October 15, 2015
(photo: Rich Pedronce lll, AP)

The cost of child care has gotten so high in the United States that in most states it exceeds the price of college tuition, according to one think tank.


The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reviewed incomes and cost of living across the country and found infant child care in 33 states and the District of Columbia exceeded the average cost of in-state college tuition at public universities.


The costs of child care vary depending on the region of the country. In Mississippi, center-based infant care costs $468 a month, but in Washington D.C., it’s $1,868, according to EPI.


For single-parent families with two children (ages 4 and 8), center-based child care consumed 11.7% of family budgets in New Orleans, but 33.7% in Buffalo, New York.


“How are young parents supposed to be able to afford the equivalent of a college tuition?” Elise Gould, a senior economist at EPI, one of the authors of the paper, said to Fortune. “This is out of reach for many [higher-income] families.”


EPI also reported that among families with two children, child care costs exceed rent in 500 out of 618 family budget areas. “For two-child families, child care costs range from about half as much as rent in San Francisco to nearly three times rent in Binghamton, New York,” Gould and Tanyell Cooke wrote.


They added that the high cost of child care “means that a full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker with one child falls far below the family budget threshold in all 618 family budget areas—even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages.”


For those with an infant, the cost of center-based child care runs from 32.2% of minimum wage in South Dakota to 102.6% of minimum wage in Washington, D.C.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families (by Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke, Economic Policy Institute)

These Charts Show the Insane Cost of Child Care (by Lindsey Cook, U.S. News & World Report)

Childcare Now Costs More than Rent. No Wonder More Women are Opting Out of the Workforce (by Valentina Zarya, Fortune)

Day Care Costs More than College in 31 States (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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