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Population of Children

Narrative

In 2010, there were more than 74 million children under 18 years of age in the United States, representing nearly one-quarter 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 53.0 percent of the population, and adults aged 65 years and older composed 13.0 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 24.0 percent in 2010. The representation of young adults (aged 18–24 years) has also fallen, from 13.3 percent to 9.9 percent. During this time period, the percentage of the population that is aged 25–64 years has increased from 47.3 percent to 53.0 percent, and the percentage that is over 65 years has increased from 11.3 percent to 13.0 percent. The median age in the United States has increased from 30.0 years in 1980 to 37.2 years in 2010 (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

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 fewer than 9 percent of children in 1980, compared to more than 23 percent in 2010, while the percentage of children who are non-Hispanic Black has remained relatively steady over the same period, around 15 percent. However, the percentage of children who are non-Hispanic White has fallen significantly, from 74.3 percent in 1980 to 58.3 percent in 2010. After 2000, changes in the ways that racial and ethnic data were collected limit comparison over time for some groups, including Asians 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 2010
Year Percent of Population
1980 2010
[1980] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P25-1095; “Table US-EST90INT-04 - Intercensal Estimates of the United States Resident Population by Age Groups and Sex, 1990-2000: Selected Months” September 2002 in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. Accessed: March 22, 2012.
[2010] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010 (US-EST00INT-01). September 2011. Accessed: March 22, 2012.
Under 5 Years 7.2 6.5
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 53
65 Years and Older 11.3 13
Population of Children Under Age 18, by Race/Ethnicity, 1980 and 2010
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Children
1980 2010
[1980] Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1996. Accessed: March 26, 2012. Analyses conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
[2010] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Single Year of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010. Accessed: March 22, 2012. Analyses conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Non-Hispanic White 74.2 58.3
Non-Hispanic Black 14.5 14.1
Hispanic 8.8 23.1
American Indian/Alaska Native 0.8 0.9
Asian N/A 4.4
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander N/A 0.2
Two or More Races (May include Hispanic) N/A 3.6