Bad Time To Be Young

The current economic malaise and austerity have forced governments to make painful choices and might lead to what some are calling an “intergenerational civil war.” According to a recent article by Newsweek, the US spends more on the elderly than the young. While that fact by itself is not surprising or new, the article attempts to trace out some potential issues with that continued trajectory. According to the Urban Institute's Kids Share study, public spending on children in 2008 (in current dollars) came to $12,164 per child, with about a third of that total coming from the federal government and two-thirds from state and local levels, mostly via education spending.  The elderly by contrast received about $27,117 per person and mostly from the federal government via social security, Medicaid and Medicare.

The article points out that, since the 1960's, federal spending on children has risen every single year until 2011, when it dropped by $2 billion. Since 2011, federal spending on children has been on the decline and it is projected that this trend will continue. The Urban Institute projects federal spending on kids will drop from its current rate of 10 percent of the total budget to 8 percent in 2023. This shift in spending could have a number of unintended consequences, including widening the gap between the rich and poor, restricted access to education and fewer job opportunities for young workers.  

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