TORONTO, August 23, 2013 ( – Having and raising children costs much less than people think, according to a new evaluation by a Canadian think-tank.

The report on the study says that the “benchmark” cost of raising a child in Canada is between $3,000 and $4,500 a year, depending on the age of the child – far from the $10,000 to $15,000 a year that is popularly believed.

“Many estimates of the cost of children suggest that children are very expensive,” writes Christopher Sarlo, an economics professor at Nipissing University and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. “This is simply not the case.”


The report shows that prevailing estimates of the cost of a child for Canada and the United States range from $10,000 to $15,000 a year.

“These cost estimates have a distinct middle class bias and do not reflect the reality of raising children in lower income and newer immigrant households,” Sarlo observes. “There is a concern that such estimates send a clear message to lower income families that they really cannot afford children and, perhaps, shouldn’t have any.”

“There are millions of Canadian parents, including countless immigrants, who, over the past several decades have successfully raised happy, healthy, and well-educated children on a fraction of this cost,” he writes. “The numbers simply won’t make any sense to parents of limited means who have actually raised children.”

“While parents certainly could spend $10,000 and more on their children, these estimates simply do not reflect what parents, especially lower income parents, need to spend towards the healthy development of their child,” Sarlo says.

He found that the popular estimates reported in Canadian media are misleading, because they are based on “flawed methods” of analysis and “questionable assumptions” related to a “middle-class bias.”

The author cites an article from Canada’s Financial Post titled “The skyrocketing cost of raising kids,” which features a Toronto couple paying $17,000 a year for child care for their two young children.

No information is given about the couple’s two incomes or about their other spending. It also quotes a UBC professor as saying that “Canada has become a country in which it is harder to raise a family.”

In fact, the evidence presented in this study suggests just the opposite.

It has never been financially easier, Sarlo maintains, to raise children in Canada.

“The necessities are easier and less costly, as a proportion of income, to acquire; real incomes are higher; there are more dual earner families; people are raising fewer children than ever before; and, for lower income families, there are substantial government benefits that will partially or completely offset the cost of raising a child, benefits that were not as generous in the past,” he says.

Additionally, Sarlo notes that the attempt to measure the cost of children is laden with political implications that make high estimates more useful to those who have “vested interests in having high costs for raising children.”

“The social welfare community–a broad coalition of public service workers, social activists, academics, and many journalists, is active in lobbying the state for more resources for families with children. This agenda, associated with left-liberal and social democratic positions, is part of a redistributionist perspective and it would be naive to ignore the influence it has on public policy,” Sarlo says.

“Their job becomes easier if the public believes that raising children is an expensive proposition beyond many people's means.”

His report concludes “that an annual outlay of $3,000 to $4,500, depending on the community or region and the age of the child, would be sufficient” to raise a child.

The full text of the report titled “the Cost of Raising Children” is available from the Fraser Institute here.