Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, October 7, 2022

Spending on Children

From the New York Times:

The pandemic, at first, left many American parents feeling stranded, cut off from school and other support systems. But then something momentous happened. The government invested billions of dollars in children, including cash payments to families, free school meals and money for child care centers and public schools.

In 2021, the federal government spent $10,710 per child, through a mix of programs and tax changes, up from $6,810 in 2019, according to the latest installment of the Urban Institute’s annual Kids’ Share report, released Thursday. It amounted to $834 billion, invested in 78 million children.

It didn’t last. The investments were meant to respond to an emergency, and as it eases and most of the investments expire, government financial support for families will largely return to prepandemic levels by 2024 — and in some categories, will decline from those levels.


Excluding tax reductions, federal spending was $8,240 per child. By comparison, similar spending on adults 65 and older last year was $35,200 per person. In typical times, for every $1 the federal government spends on children, it spends $6 on older adults. This is largely because of health costs, through Medicare and Medicaid as well as Social Security.

Spending on older adults is set to increase: One-third of the federal budget now goes to them, and that share is projected to grow to half in a decade, the Urban Institute found. Children, by comparison, get 9 percent of the budget now — and that’s expected to shrink to 6 percent in a decade.

“The simple story there is that the entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for adults is growing, it’s continuing to grow and squeezing out everything else in the budget, including children,” said Heather Hahn, a co-author of the report, who studies welfare and children’s well-being at the Urban Institute.

Read more here.

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