Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008


This report is one in a series that addresses federal spending on children, broken down into three age groups: infants and toddlers (birth to age 2), pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners (ages 3 to 5), and elementary school-age children (ages 6 to 11). This report specifically focuses on 2008 statistics for the elementary school-age group.

In hopes of determining ways to best invest resources for children, the report takes information from federal budget data released in 2009. The findings allow reflection on current spending and answer four main questions:

How much is spent on elementary-age children?

Where are the funds spent?

How are the funds spent?

What are the future trends in expenditures on elementary-age children based on current policy?

According to the statistics, $113 billion in federal money, including spending and tax reductions, was spent on 6- to 11-year-olds in 2008, most of which went toward education, health and nutrition. Tax programs, such as the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are also covered in the report.

The report makes reference to higher spending that took place in 2004, when combined federal, state and local spending amounted to $10,783 per child. But because of the recession, fiscal choices could affect future funding for elementary school-age children, making it difficult to approach these figures again.

It is important to evaluate the effects of spending on elementary school-age children, the report states, because they embody “characteristics that may make them particularly vulnerable to poor outcomes later in life.” Among those are development in reading, reinforcement of previous learning, and susceptibility to obesity.

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