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Do Public Expenditures Improve Child Outcomes in the U.S.? A Comparison across Fifty States

Author

Listed:
  • Kristen Harknett
  • Irwin Garfinkel
  • Jay Bainbridge
  • Timothy Smeeding
  • Nancy Folbre
  • Sara McLanahan

Abstract

Our paper utilizes variation across the 50 U.S. states to examine the relationship between public expenditures on children and child outcomes. We find that public expenditures on children are related to better child outcomes across a wide range of indicators, including measures of child mortality, elementary-school test scores, and adolescent behavioral outcomes. States that spend more on children have better child outcomes even after taking into account potential confounding influences. Our results are robust to numerous variations in model specifications and to the inclusion of proxies for unobserved characteristics of states. Our sensitivity analyses suggest that the results we present may be conservative, yet our findings show that public investments in children yield broad short-term returns in the form of improved child outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristen Harknett & Irwin Garfinkel & Jay Bainbridge & Timothy Smeeding & Nancy Folbre & Sara McLanahan, 2003. "Do Public Expenditures Improve Child Outcomes in the U.S.? A Comparison across Fifty States," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 53, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  • Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:53
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Phipps, S., 1999. "The Well-Being of Young Canadian Children in International Perspective," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive 99-01, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
    2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek & Julie A. Somers, 1999. "Schooling, Inequality, and the Impact of Government," NBER Working Papers 7450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rebecca M. Blank & Maria J. Hanratty, 1993. "Responding to Need: A Comparison of Social Safety Nets in Canada and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 191-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kristine A. Lykens & Paul A. Jargowsky, 2002. "Medicaid matters: children's health and medicaid eligibility expansions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 219-238.
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    11. Shelley Phipps, 1999. "What is the Best Mix of Policies for Canadas Children?: An International Comparison of Policies and Outcomes for Young Children," LIS Working papers 201, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mayer, Susan E. & Lopoo, Leonard M., 2008. "Government spending and intergenerational mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 139-158, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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