Urban Institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Kids' Share:  Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children

This series of annual reports looks comprehensively at trends in federal and state spending and tax expenditures on children—the kids’ share of public spending.

Children can’t vote and they can’t lobby for public resources, but their well-being and development affect the future economic and social health of the country. Children also can’t work their way out of poverty, so the government has a special calling to protect them. Public investments are used to educate children; promote their health, safety, and well-being; ensure their basic needs are met; and help protect their families from financial hardship. These investments come in the form of direct spending on programs that serve kids and through tax benefits that offer their families financial assistance.

Determining how government spends money, and who benefits, reveals our priorities. This series seeks to inform a national conversation about how best to invest the country's resources by examining federal and state expenditures on children in the past and projected into the future.  

 

Listing of Current and Recent Projects

Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections
Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections, a seventh annual report, looks comprehensively at federal spending and taxes on children. Federal outlays on children fell by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, which is the greatest single-year drop since the early 1980s. While most of this decline is explained by the exhaustion of recession-related funds provided by ARRA, broader budgetary forces will continue to restrict spending on children over the next ten years. Over the next decade, outlays on children are projected to decline from 10 percent to 8 percent of the federal budget.

How Do Public Investments in Children Vary with Age? A Kids' Share Analysis of Expenditures in 2008 and 2011 by Age Group
Federal, state, and local government investments in children vary by age. This report examines 2011 federal spending and 2008 total government spending on children age 0-2, 3-5, 6-11, and 12-18. We find that state and local governments provide three-quarters of total public investments in children age 6 and older, while the federal government provides three-quarters of investments in children age 0-2 and about half of investments in age 3-5. Total public spending is highest for school-age children, but federal spending is highest for the youngest children. These findings suggest that investments at all levels of government matter for children.

Kids' Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2011
Kids' Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2011, a sixth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends over the past 50 years in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that the size and composition of expenditures on children have changed considerably, but children have not been a budget priority. In 2011, federal outlays on children fell for the first time since the early 1980s, dropping from $378 billion in 2010 to $376 billion. Over the next decade, outlays on children are projected to decline from 10 to 8 percent of the federal budget.

Data Appendix to Kids' Share 2012
Kids' Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2011, a sixth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Event: Growing Up Under a Foreboding Budget Cloud - The Forecast for Government Spending on Children
Distinguished panel of experts to discuss what's behind these spending patterns, what must happen to change the trends, how to distinguish between short- and long-term tradeoffs, and whether childhood investments can be boosted or even maintained given other budgetary pressures.

How Targeted Are Federal Expenditures on Children? A Kids' Share Analysis of Expenditures by Income in 2009
This report provides a first-time analysis of how the allocation of public resources for children varies by family income. Examining federal expenditures for nearly 100 federal programs in 2009, the report finds that 70 percent of all federal spending on children served the 42 percent of children who are low-income -- living in families with incomes less than twice the federal poverty level. While low-income children received 84 percent of outlays on children, higher-income children received 82 percent of tax reductions benefiting children.

Federal Health Expenditures on Children on the Eve of Health Reform: A Benchmark for the Future
Federal spending on children's health increased greatly over the past 50 years, although it remained a modest 10 percent of total health spending in 2010. The largest program in the children's health budget, Medicaid, accounted for $74 billion and 85 percent of all federal spending on children's health in 2010. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included provisions that will increase health insurance coverage for both children and their parents. However, the magnitude of the estimated impact of the ACA on children's coverage depends heavily on the continuation of current Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children.

Kids' Share 2011
Kids' Share 2011: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2010, a fifth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends over the past 50 years in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that the size and composition of expenditures on children have changed considerably, but children have not been a budget priority. Federal expenditures on children in 2010, were 11 percent of the federal budget, slightly higher than in 2009.  This increase is temporary, however, with the children's share of the budget expected to shrink to less than 8 percent by the end of the next decade.

Kids' Share 2011: Data Appendix
Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2010, a fifth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Kids' Share 2010
Kids' Share 2010: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2009, a fourth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that historically children have not been a budget priority. In 2009, this trend continued, as children's spending accounted for less than one-tenth of federal outlays. While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a temporary boost, children's spending will continue to be squeezed in the next decade.

Kids' Share 2010: Data Appendix
Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2009, a fourth annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008 (Ages 6 through 11)
This report provides a first-time analysis of the nation's current spending on elementary-age children by examining 2008 federal expenditures from more than 100 federal programs on children ages 6 through 11. Findings show that six programs account for 63 percent of the expenditures on elementary-age children. Three of these are tax programs (CTC, EITC, and the dependent exemption), while the other three are child nutrition, Medicaid, and education for the disadvantaged. Education programs figure prominently in federal spending on this age group, representing 16 percent of total spending.

Public Investment in Children's Early and Elementary Years (Birth to Age 11)
How government spends money, and who benefits, reveals our priorities. How, then, do children fare in the competition for public resources? This report looks at public investments across age groups, from birth through the elementary years. Key findings show that spending more than doubles per capita between the infant and toddler years and the elementary years. The increase is driven by growing state and local spending; the federal contribution is relatively stable across age groups. Findings also reveal that states and localities spend more money than the federal government does on children, except when it comes to the youngest children.

Federal Expenditures on Pre-Kindergarteners and Kindergarteners in 2008 (Ages 3 through 5)
This report provides a first-time analysis of the nation's current spending on pre-kindergartners and kindergartners by examining 2008 federal expenditures from more than 100 federal programs on children ages 3 through 5. Findings show that six programs accounted for approximately two-thirds of all federal expenditures on this age group in 2008: Head Start, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and three tax programs (the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and the dependent exemption). Programs that specifically focus on the care and education of children ages 3 through 5 represent 23 percent of total federal expenditures.

Data Appendix to Federal Expenditures on Pre-Kindergarteners and Kindergarteners in 2008 & Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008
"Federal Expenditures on Pre-Kindergarteners and Kindergarteners in 2008," along with "Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008," are two reports that provide first-time analyses of national investments in children age 3 through 5 and children age 6 through 11. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Public Expenditures on Children through 2008
Key facts are highlighted from several Urban Institute and Brookings Institution reports on public expenditures on children through 2008. Findings reveal that spending on children increased under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other stimulus spending, but not proportionately to other federal spending. As ARRA expires, spending on children is projected to decline, assuming no change in current policies. Results also show that states and localities spent more money than the federal government did on children in 2004, except when it came to the youngest children, and that overall public investment (local, state, and federal) increases as children get older.

Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007
This report examines more than 100 programs through which the federal government spends money on children and calculates the amount spent on children under three. These first time expenditure estimates provide a place to start in gauging the priority the nation places on investing in very young children and in comparing expenditure patterns to researchers’ findings about investments that work. For example, despite extensive child development research underscoring the importance of quality early care and education programs for infants and toddlers, especially those in poverty, just 7 percent of federal funding for children between birth and age 2 went toward these efforts in 2007.

Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007 Key Facts
Extensive research shows investing in very young children can help build a strong future workforce, improve children’s educational success and health, and potentially reduce some of the social ills that drain the nation’s resources and will. What investments does the United States currently make in infants and toddlers?

Data Appendix to Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007
Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007 looks comprehensively at federal spending and tax expenditures targeted toward infants and toddlers. This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of federal expenditures that went to infants and toddlers in 2007.

Kids' Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008
A
third annual report, looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that historically children have not been a budget priority. In 2008, this trend continued, as children's spending accounted for less than one-tenth of federal outlays. Absent a policy change, children's spending will continue to be squeezed in the next decade.

Data Appendix to Kids' Share An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008
This appendix details our data sources, the programs we include, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of all expenditures that went to children.

Kids' Share 2008: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget
This Report tracks trends in federal spending on children from 1960 through 2018. The primary data source used is the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009 and past years dating back to 1960.

Data Appendix to Kids' Share 2008
This data appendix updates and expands the appendix created by Rebecca L. Clark, Rosalind Berkowitz King, Christopher Spiro, and C. Eugene Steuerle in support of "Federal Expenditures on Children: 1960-1997," Assessing the New Federalism Occasional Paper Number 45 published by the Urban Institute, 2000.

Kids' Share 2008: Key Facts
Findings from the Kids' Share 2008 report, this report looks comprehensively at trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Key findings suggest that historically children have not been a budget priority. In 2007, this trend continued, as children's spending did not keep pace with GDP growth. Absent a policy change, children's spending will continue to be squeezed in the next decade.

Kids' Share 2007
This study reports on trends in federal spending on children from 1960 to 2017, looking across over 100 major federal programs, including tax credits and exemptions. Children's spending increasingly shifted from broad-based programs to programs targeting low-income or special needs children over the 1960 to 2006 period. Thirteen major programs enacted between 1960 and 2006, which include Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, and Food Stamps, comprised 65 percent of federal spending on children in 2006. Overall, federal children's spending increased in real terms from $53 billion in 1960 to $333 billion in 2006, or from 1.9 to 2.6 percent of GDP. Yet as a share of federal domestic spending, children's spending declined from 20.1 to 15.4 percent. Meanwhile, spending on the automatically growing, non-child portions of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, nearly quadrupled from 2.0 to 7.6 percent of GDP ($58 billion to $993 billion) over the same time period. Over the next ten years, children's programs are scheduled to decline both as a share of GDP and domestic spending, because they do not compete on a level playing field with these rapidly growing entitlement programs.