There are always articles being written about the cost of raising children, usually accompanied by horrendous and scary numbers. I recently ran across a slightly different one here. A recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the cost of raising a child to age 18 (note this does NOT include college!) at approximately $227,000. Yikes!

But there is also evidence that children have a diminishing marginal cost. In other words, as you have more children, the extra cost attributable to the later children decreases as you have more kids.

A recent USA Today column says the per-child costs decrease substantially when parents have a second and third child. The column is written by Laura Vanderkam, who is the author of the forthcoming book All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending.

Vanderkam writes that while an 11-year-old only child might cost a middle-income family $15,830 annually, a family in that same income bracket would spend $26,490 per year on their kids. In other words having a second child added only $10,660 to the tab. After that it gets better. A middle-income family with kids ages 11, 13 and 16 spends $31,070. The third kid costs just $4,580.

While this may look at monetary costs, I can guarantee you it doesn’t take into account the wear-and-tear on those of us who have more kids. I’m still hoping I survive my kids’ childhoods!