One measure of how much governments prioritize children and families is how much they spend on things like child allowances, daycare, and child-tax credits. Inside a longer report on global child well-being, out this week from the nonprofit Child Trends, lies this surprising tidbit: The U.S. has a higher proportion of children living in poverty than most other high-income countries, and it spends just 0.7 percent of its GDP on benefits for families—a fraction of what other middle- and high-income countries spend.
“Among 21 countries in the study,” the organization writes in an accompanying statement, “the U.S. ranks second-to-last in the percentage of its GDP spent on benefits for families, despite one of the highest relative child poverty rates of the comparable high-income countries.” (Turkey technically ranks last, but only because its data is missing.)
Spending on Family Benefits by % of GDP, by Country
As this map shows, Western European nations spent the most of all 21 countries in the study on things like cash transfers to families with children, tax benefits, and public services for families. The U.K. leads the way, spending more than 4 percent of its GDP on these benefits—much higher than the average for all the OECD countries.