U.S. Lags in Spending on Young Children, Report Says

By Sean Cavanagh — September 01, 2009 1 min read
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The United States trails most industrialized nations in the amount of public spending on younger children, according to new data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. This spending increases, however, as children get older, and the U.S. system outpaces other developed countries in resources channeled toward students in the 6-11 and 12-17 age groups.

While overall U.S. public spending on children ranks among the highest across the OECD, child poverty rates in the United States stand at 21.6 percent, nearly twice the OECD average, the report says. Public support for children, as measured in the study, includes cash benefits and tax credits for families, education, and childcare. It does not include public spending on health, according to the OECD report.

Educational attainment in the U.S. compares poorly to the average among those nations, it finds. Additionally, this country has higher rates of infant and child mortality and of low birth weight than the OECD average, the report finds.

To OECD officials, the message from the data is that the U.S. should spend more on young children and disadvantaged teenagers. “Despite the United States’ strong research and policy tradition in the area of child well-being, too many American children are still behind,” Simon Chapple, the co-author of the OECD report, said in a statement.

It’s probably worth noting that, when OECD has released reports in the past, not all researchers have agreed with the Paris-based organization’s policy ideas. Some observers, like Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, have said the organization oversteps its bounds and strays into subjectivity when it issues policy recommendations in reports that put forward statistical data.

What’s your view—are the OECD’s latest findings on the money?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.