State Spending Choices and Children’s Health

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Building on our Health of the States Project, we will examine the impact of state social spending and health policies on health and developmental outcomes among children. We are proposing a focus on children because health and developmental trajectories begin in childhood; we can capture spending policies over the course of their lifetime; and the vast majority of children live in the same state that they were born for their entire childhood (US Census 2011).

We will use data from three waves of the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) matched by birth cohort, county, and state to historical data from the Census of Governments, which tabulates state and local government spending by category of service. We will examine four types of state spending: education, income support, housing and community development, and libraries, parks and recreation. To control for state spending on health we will include public health spending from the Census of Governments and also Medicaid eligibility thresholds for children and parents. These data will allow us to develop measures of exposure to several types of government social spending during three key developmental phases of childhood.