FIGURE 5 Per Child Federal, State, and Local Expenditures on Children in 2007, by Category
Source: The Urban Institute and The Brookings Institution, 2010. Note: Tax expenditures are not included in either the federal or state/local numbers.
FIGURE 6 Per Capita Spending on Children and the Elderly in 2007
E l d e r l y ( > 6 5 )
Source: The Urban Institute and The Brookings Institution, 2010.
state figures are for 2007 and are presented in 2007 dollars. The figures represent per capita averages across all states, all ages of children, all income categories, all levels of disability, and so on. In fact, per capita spending varies considerably across many dimensions. For example, state and local spend- ing on children varied in 2004 from $3,699 in Utah to $9,267 in New Jersey, and federal expenditures on children also varied to some extent (Billen et al. 2007). In other research we have found that spending also varies by age, with total spending twice as high on elementary school–age children as on infants and toddlers.11 Per capita spending also varies by a child’s need and eligibility for services, which may vary by family income, disability status, or other condition.
For comparison, public spending on the elderly was roughly $24,300 per person, or 2.3 times the amount spent per child in 2007.12 A large portion of public expenditures
on the elderly are for health care, reflecting the higher health needs of the elderly compared with children. However, per capita spending on the elderly is considerably higher than per capita spending on children even without the roughly $9,900 per person in public health dollars spent on those age 65 and older.
As shown in figure 6, the vast majority of public spend- ing on the elderly is federally funded, primarily through Social Security and Medicare. Looking solely at the federal budget, an elderly person receives seven federal dollars for every dollar received by a child. The size of the elderly popu- lation is about half that of the child population (37.9 million versus 78.1 million in 2007). In aggregate, federal outlays on the elderly were 3.4 times those on children in 2007.
AN ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL EXPENDITURES ON CHILDREN