US spends less per child than most developed nations

By Jeff Stein | Washington Post

The federal government now spends less than it did about 30 years ago on some of the country’s poorest children, the result of cuts to federal welfare programs, according to a new research paper.

In 1990, the government spent about $8,700 on every child whose family took in no income from work. By 2015, accounting for inflation, it spent less than $7,000 on children from these impoverished families, the paper calculates.

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Much of the drop was driven by cuts to direct welfare payment programs, which once went to 76 percent of poor families with children but now goes to only 23 percent of them.

Federal spending on all children, when measured as a portion of the economy as a whole, has increased since the 1990s, but it has not grown quickly enough to keep the United States from falling behind other countries with similarly developed economies.

In 1995, America ranked ahead of nine developed nations in the share of the economy the federal government spends on children. Since 2004, America has ranked third-to-last in spending, with only Mexico and Turkey lagging behind, as other countries have increased their spending on family benefits.

The small increase in U.S. spending on childhood programs comes in large measure from multiple expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax credit tied to work that has increased more than fivefold since the 1990s. That tax credit has helped reduce child poverty in America, although one in seven children – or 11 million of them – still remain in poverty. (Some estimates have put the number higher.)

“The U.S. isn’t frugal or miserly with every group, but we’ve allowed millions …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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