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Data Appendix to Kids' Share An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008

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Document date: December 29, 2009
Released online: January 04, 2010


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. 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.

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This data appendix provides program-level detail on the methodology and data used to estimate the share of federal expenditures spent on children from over 100 federal programs featured in Kids' Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008. This data appendix builds on earlier appendices prepared for earlier Kids' Share reports, including Kids' Share 2008: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget and Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007. Contributors to those earlier data appendices include Gillian Reynolds, Adam Carasso, Tracy Vericker, Jenifer Macomber, Elizabeth Bell, Rebecca L. Clark, Rosalind Berkowitz King, Christopher Spiro, and C. Eugene Steuerle.

Analyses draw primarily on data from the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2010 (and past years), its appendices, and special analyses for historical data and projections. For most programs, we start with outlay estimates from the Appendix to the Federal Budget or, in the case of tax expenditures, from the Analytical Perspectives volume of the budget. In most cases, the budget provides outlays for individual programs. In cases where a single outlay figure is given for a group of programs of interest, we assumed that the relationship between outlays (the amount spent) and obligations (the amount appropriated) is the same for all programs within a group: the obligation figure for the individual program was multiplied by the total outlay figure for the group and then divided by the total obligation figure.1 We also had to look elsewhere when a program was not broken out as a line item that year but was lumped in with other programs.

Much of the quantitative effort goes into estimating the portions of programs, such as SNAP/Food Stamps, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income, that go just to children. For these calculations, the most frequently used data sources are the House Ways and Means Committee's Green Book (various years), the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin (various years), reports from the agencies that administer the programs, and discussions with agency staff. We also rely on unpublished tabulations of administrative or survey data generated by the authors or other researchers.

For projections of outlay and tax expenditure programs from 2009 to 2019 when federal budget data were not available at the needed level of detail, the authors relied on the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Budget and Economic Outlook, FY 2009—19 and updated baseline projections from its An Analysis of the President's Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2010; the FY 2010 federal budget, and the Department of the Treasury's General Explanation of the Administration's FY 2010 Revenue Proposals. The authors also employed their own assumptions.

Children are defined as residents of the United States under age 19. However, when a program defined children as those under age 18, we use this narrower definition; such was the case for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, SNAP/Food Stamps, and several other programs. When a program defined children as those under age 20, 21, or 22, we limit the definition to those under 19, unless there are insufficient data to do so or the amount of expenditures on older youth is small. For education and training programs, we draw a line at the end of high school in adding up children's benefits, acknowledging that a small portion of children remain in high school past age 19. We exclude federal spending in the form of college or postsecondary vocational training, such as Pell grants, Stafford or Perkins loans, Hope Scholarship tax credits, Job Corps for youth over age 18, and the like.

For a program to be included in this analysis (as a whole or in part), it must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Benefits or services go entirely to children (e.g., elementary and secondary education programs, foster care payments); this also includes programs where a portion provides benefits directly to children (e.g., Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income);
  2. Family benefit levels increase with the inclusion of children in the application for the benefit (e.g., SNAP/Food Stamps, low-rent public housing); or
  3. Children are necessary for a family to qualify for any benefits (e.g., TANF, the child tax credit, the dependent exemption).

Conceptually, we define federal spending on children as equal to the amount families with children receive less the amount, if any, they would receive if they did not have children. We exclude unemployment compensation, tax benefits for home ownership, and other benefits where the amount of the benefit received by the adult is not tied to presence or number of children, based on criterion 2 above.2 Our analysis does not include programs that provide benefits to the population at large (a significant share of whom are children), such as roads, communications, national parks, and environmental protection.

For programs that meet the first criterion above and serve children only, we assign 100 percent of program expenditures (benefits and associated administrative costs) to children, whether the expenditure is a direct service to children (e.g., education) or a child benefit paid through parents or guardians (e.g., SSI disabled children benefits). We make no attempt to subtract the amount of a child's benefit that parents may spend on themselves. Where a program provides direct services to both children and adults, we calculate the percentage of program expenditures that go to children (e.g., Medicaid). In the more difficult case where benefits are provided to families without any delineation of a parents and children's share, we generally estimate a children's share based on the number of children and adults in the family and assuming equal benefits per capita. For example, in a one-adult, two-child family, two-thirds of housing, energy assistance, welfare, or food stamp benefits would go to the children and one-third to the adult.3 We outline our general process for allocating benefits to children in figure 1.

(End of excerpt. The entire brief is available in PDF format.)

Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Economy/Taxes | Families and Parenting

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