Unequal Playing Field? State Differences in Spending on Children in 2013

State spending on children varies widely, with Vermont spending nearly three times more ($13,430) per child than Utah ($4,594) in 2013 (after adjusting for cost of living). Education spending drives most state-to-state differences. Moreover, there is a strong geographic pattern to these variations. Most states spending $10,000 or more per child are in the Northeast, and many states spending $7,000 or less are found in the South and West. Though children’s outcomes are affected by many dimensions, health and education outcomes tend to be better in states that spend more on children. The wide disparities in public investment raise concerns about whether children nationwide are on equal footing when it comes to pursuing the American dream.

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