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Conceptually, we define federal spending on children as the amount families with children receive less the amount, if any, they would receive if they did not have children. We therefore exclude unemployment benefits, which do ben- efit families with children, but do not generally provide a higher benefit to unemployed parents than to unemployed individuals without children.3 For the same reason we ex- clude tax benefits for home ownership, and other benefits where the amount of the benefit received by the adult is not tied to presence or number of children. Our analysis also excludes programs that provide benefits to the population at large (a significant share of whom are children), such as roads, communications, national parks, and environ- mental protection. We exclude federal spending on college or postsecondary vocational training, focusing instead on spending through secondary school. Partly for data reasons, we also exclude prenatal spending through Med- icaid and other federal programs. In general, childhood is defined as extending from birth until a child’s 19th birthday.

Our most comprehensive measure of federal expendi- tures on children includes reductions in taxes (i.e., reduced tax liabilities as a result of the child tax credit, the dependent exemption, or other provisions in the tax code) as well as direct outlays from the federal treasury (i.e., spending from governmental programs as well as the outlay portion of cer- tain tax credits). However, some analyses focus on outlays only, especially when we are comparing children’s outlays with other outlay measures that exclude the tax breaks (to- tal government outlays, state and local spending, spending on the elderly). We are careful to note in our report where

our analysis focuses on outlays only and where it includes reductions in taxes. Even when the analysis is restricted to outlays, however, it includes portions of the two largest tax provisions affecting children: most of the earned in- come tax credit and some of the child tax credit is paid out (refunded) to families with negative tax liabilities. That is, government budgetary documents divide spending under these programs into a direct outlay, or refundable portion, and a tax expenditure portion that reduces existing taxes.

Benefit size

Benefit size

Benefit size

Benefit size

dependent

dependent

dependent

unaffected

on number of

on number of

on presence

by number of

children only

children and

or number of

children

100% of expenditures

Share of expenditures

Share of expenditures

100% of expenditures

Share of expenditures

Share of expenditures

No expenditures

Most education programs, child support enforcement, immunization, Head Start, foster care, adoption assistance, child welfare, children and family services programs, child care programs, juvenile justice, missing children, etc.

Medicaid, SCHIP, MCHB, Social Services Block Grant, Community Services Block Grant; Job Corps, vocational and adult education, etc.

Social Security, SSI, Railroad Retirement, etc.

EITCa, child tax credit, dependent exemption, employer- provided child care, etc.

TANF, etc.

SNAP/Food Stamps, veterans benefits, public housing, low-income home energy assistance, etc.

Unemployment benefits; workers compensation, Making Work Pay and other tax credits not tied to number of children, etc.

FIGURE 1 General Rules for Allocating Program Expenditures to Children

Services delivered by third-party agency (not delivered to families or households)

Benefits delivered to families and households

All services to children

number of adults

children

Services to both children and adults

Individual benefits to both children and adults

Family or household benefits

Eligibility limited to families with children

Eligibility not limited to those with children

Note: The specific allocation procedures vary, depending on available data and type of benefit provided by specific programs. See the data appendix for further details, particularly on calculating the children’s share of expenditures when benefits are shared between adults and children. a Spending on childless earned income tax credit (EITC) units (3 percent of total) is excluded.

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KIDS’ SHARE

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