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Population of Children

Narrative

In 2009, there were more than 74 million children under 18 years of age in the United States, representing nearly 25 percent of the population. Young adults aged 18–24 years made up another 9.9 percent of the population, while adults aged 25–64 years composed 52.9 percent of the population, and adults aged 65 years and older composed 12.9 percent.

The age distribution of the population has shifted significantly in the past several decades. The percentage of the population that is under 18 fell from 28.2 percent in 1980 to 24.3 percent in 2009. The representation of young adults (aged 18–24 years) has also declined, from 13.3 percent to 9.9 percent. During this time period, the percentage of the population that is aged 25–64 years increased from 47.3 percent to 52.9 percent, and the percentage that is over 65 years increased from 11.3 percent to 12.9 percent. The median age in the United States has increased from 30.0 years in 1980 to 36.8 years in 2009.

The shifting racial/ethnic makeup of the child population (under 18 years) reflects the increasing diversity of the population as a whole. Hispanic children represented less than 9 percent of children in 1980, compared to more than 22 percent in 2009, while the percentage of children who are Black remained relatively steady over the same period, around 15 percent. However, the percentage of children who are non-Hispanic White fell significantly, from 74.3 percent in 1980 to 55.3 percent in 2009. Changes in the ways that racial and ethnic data were collected after 2000 limit comparison over time for some groups, including Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and individuals of more than one race.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

U.S. Population by Age graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

Population of Children by Race/Ethnicity graph

Data

U.S. Population, by Age Group 1980 and 2009
Year Percent of Population
1980 2009
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Annual population estimates (2009). Accessed March 2011.
Under 5 Years 7.2 6.9
5-13 Years 13.8 11.9
14-17 Years 7.2 5.5
18-24 Years 13.3 9.9
25-64 Years 47.3 52.9
65 Years and Older 11.3 12.9
Population of Children Under Age 18, by Race/Ethnicity, 1980 and 2009
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Children
1980 2009
N/A = not available.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Annual population estimates (2009). Accessed March 2011.
Non-Hispanic White 74.3 55.3
Non-Hispanic Black 14.8 15.1
Hispanic 8.7 22.5
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (May include Hispanic) 0.9 1.3
Non-Hispanic Asian (May include Hispanic) N/A 4.4
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (May include Hispanic) N/A 0.2
Two or More Races (May include Hispanic) N/A 3.3

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