Investing in Children

Research Report

Investing in Children

Abstract

We chart U.S. federal spending on investment in total and for children from 1965 to 2017. Five major categories can be considered -- some more so than others -- to be investment or to have investment components: education and research, work supports, social supports, physical capital, and defense investment. Relative to domestic spending, the most direct investment -- education and research -- for the nation as a whole, and crucially for children, fell over the 1970-2006 period though with some recent rebounds. More important, projections of current policies show that overall government investment and especially investment in children are threatened to decline in relative and sometimes absolute importance, squeezed out mainly by faster, automatically growing programs that tend to favor consumption. These data raise the question of what relative priority the government should place on investment, and particularly investment in children.

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