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Report: Federal spending per child falls, further decreases projected

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Report: Federal spending per child falls, further decreases projected
The federal government spent less on children in 2018, when adjusted for inflation, a new Urban Institute study found. File photo by dotshock/Shutterstock

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Federal government spending on children fell in 2018, driven by cuts to education and nutrition programs and reductions in child-related tax credits, a new report released Tuesday revealed.

The federal government spent $6,200 per child in 2018, the report by the Urban Institute found. When adjusted for inflation, that's less than the amount spent in 2017.

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Federal investments in children fell to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, the lowest level in a decade.

Children's share of the federal budget is projected to fall from 9.2 percent to 7.5 percent over the next decade, the study said, noting that by 2020, the federal government is expected to be spending more on interest payments on debt than on children.

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The reductions hit working families hardest, particularly Latino and black residents.

"It's part of a very broad trend that's going on in our society," said Eugene Steuerle, an institute fellow and the Richard B. Fisher chair at the Urban Institute. "In some ways it's beneath the radar, unfortunately. What's getting squeezed is investment in our children."

The Urban Institute Kids' Share report has tracked public spending on children younger than 19 since 1960.

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The federal government projects a $1.5 trillion increase in federal spending over the next 10 years, but children will get only about 3 cents on the dollar.

Steuerle said the numbers show children are not a priority in the budget.

"We're not investing in our future," Steuerle said. "We're not investing in our children, which is everything from education to support for working families who have children.

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