Kids’ Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2008

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Urban Institute

Federal expenditures on children dropped from approximately 20 percent of domestic spending in 1960 to 15 percent in 2008. And by 2019, according to this new analysis by the Urban Institute, the federal government’s spending on the elderly and disabled may surpass that spent on children.

Federal expenditures on children in 2008 totaled about $368 billion, which included $295 billion in spending from federal programs and refundable tax credits and $73 billion in tax savings. Through tax refunds from an economic stimulus plan during former President George W. Bush’s term and additional funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the report foresees the budget allocations for children reaching 2.4 percent of GDP this year.

Since the recession, more spending has gone into programs serving families with children, such as food stamps, but at the same time budgets have been cut in state and local governments. But as funds from the Recovery Act expire, the Urban Institute predicts less spending on children over the next 10 years and a decline to 1.9 percent of GDP.

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