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.
Click here for more on the Kids' Share project and a full listing of Kids' Share publications.