Six Charts About Federal Spending on Children During the Pandemic

Posted by Urban Institute on January 4, 2022

A recent report from the Urban Institute explores how the nation’s response to the pandemic led to significant spending increases for children and improved the well-being of kids and their families. Researchers found that the federal government spent about $1,000 more per child in 2020 than in 2019, reaching a total of $7,810 per child. Current data indicates that assistance for children is expected to climb even higher in 2021, hitting an all-time peak of $10,700 per child. The biggest increases in spending on children have been through tax provisions that provide financial assistance to their families, with expenditures totaling $239 billion in 2020, or 40% of the total spent on children. According to an Urban analysis, food insecurity rates for parents living with kids also declined between 2020 and 2021, from nearly 1 in 4 parents living with kids to about 1 in 6. However, research shows that federal spending on children grew less than spending on adults and other priorities. Most of the increases are temporary, as researchers project that many of the programs for kids will decline to pre-pandemic levels by 2024. Urban Institute researchers suggest that if Congress made the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent, it would drastically decrease child poverty nationwide. Keeping the credit would lift 4.3 million children out of poverty in a typical year.

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