This research was supported by the MacArthur Network on Family and the Economy. The authors are grateful for suggestions from members of the MacArthur network, Janet Gornick, Marcia Meyers, Marcy Carlson, Donald Hernandez, Kathy Wilson, and Hans Bos. Lauren Larin and Dave DeClerqc provided useful research assistance. The authors retain responsibility for all opinions and conclusions.
Are Public Expenditures Associated with Better Child Outcomes in the U.S.? A Comparison across 50 States
Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2005
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 103–125, December 2005
How to Cite
Harknett, K., Garfinkel, I., Bainbridge, J., Smeeding, T., Folbre, N. and McLanahan, S. (2005), Are Public Expenditures Associated with Better Child Outcomes in the U.S.? A Comparison across 50 States. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 5: 103–125. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2005.00058.x
- Issue online: 16 NOV 2005
- Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2005
Our article 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 a number of 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 reveal a strong relationship between state generosity toward children and children's well-being.