2021 featured a remarkable policy experiment in the United States. On July 15, the federal government began sending monthly checks to parents for up to $300 per child. The checks phased out for top earners but otherwise had no strings attached. Parents could use the money however they wanted. It was a policy that is common in other countries but had never been tried before in the United States.
Debate over the bill tended to focus on its effect on parents. Detractors worried that the measure would deter parents from working, while supporters argued any blowback on labor would be minimal. But an equally if not more important question came up less often: What does the expanded child tax credit mean for children?