-19.5%

April 30, 2021 | Number of The Day
How much less NJ got in federal spending on children compared to the average state

We know how important public investment in children is for its impact on their health, education, future economic prospects and for overall community benefits. New Jersey compares well with other states when it comes to public money allocated to children. But, according to a report from the Urban Institute, that’s largely due to state investment in public education.

An analysis by the institute of the public spending on children from birth through age 18 in New Jersey between 1998 and 2016 (the latest year for which data was available) found that New Jersey spent “substantially more on children than the national average.” A press release from The Nicholson Foundation, which underwrote the analysis, observed that “Although lower than New York’s, New Jersey’s spending is comparable to spending in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut.” Federal and state spending across four categories — pre-K–12 education, children’s health, child-related tax credits, and economic supports for families — totaled $16,329 per child in 2016 in New Jersey; that was $4,000-plus more than the average for other states, largely attributed to New Jersey’s own state investment in public education.

Here’s the flip side of that coin — and it’s striking: New Jersey children received  “less federal support per child than the average American child,” the report also found. In 2016, while federal funding averaged $4,376 per child in the United States overall, it only came to $3,522 per child in the Garden State. By our calculation, that represents a 19.5% deficit for New Jersey compared to other states. Conceding that further study is needed, the report notes that federal spending per child in New Jersey was low in the areas of pre-K–12 education, children’s health, child-related tax credits, and economic supports for families with children.

Another notable finding was that while New Jersey spent more per child on education, it spent less on children’s health, child-related tax credits, and economic supports for children and families.

There’s a wealth of fascinating numbers and analysis in the Urban Institute’s report. You can delve into it here.