What the Statistics Say About Generation Z

Featuring New Gen Z Population and Poverty Data

Updated November 1, 2023 | Posted November 13, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Meet Generation Z.

What the Sta­tis­tics Say About Gen­er­a­tion Z

Meet Gen­er­a­tion Z. Born between 1997 and 2012, they are racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse, pro­gres­sive and pro-gov­ern­ment” accord­ing to Pew Research Cen­ter. They’re also sand­wiched between mil­len­ni­als — born between 1981 and 1996 — and Gen­er­a­tion Alpha, which is adding mem­bers through 2025.

Called Gen­er­a­tion Z or zoomers,” span­ning ages 10 to 26 as of 2023, the young adult mem­bers of this group have become a pow­er­ful force in recent elec­tions — and with 8.3 mil­lion Gen Zers turn­ing 18 since the Novem­ber 2000 elec­tion, all signs indi­cate that their strength will con­tin­ue to grow. Some esti­mates have pre­dict­ed that Gen Z will make up 17% of eli­gi­ble vot­ers in 2024 and 35% in 2036.

This post explores how life has changed over the last two decades for Gen­er­a­tion Z. It high­lights key sta­tis­tics from 2000 to 2022, large­ly based on the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter.

Check out our Gen Z Core Char­ac­ter­is­tics Blog Post for More Infor­ma­tion on Gen Z

Gen Z Pop­u­la­tion, Demo­graph­ics and Diver­si­ty Statistics

The Gen Z pop­u­la­tion includes near­ly 70 mil­lion young peo­ple as of 2022, up from 57 mil­lion in 2010.

The KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter pro­vides pop­u­la­tion data for Gen­er­a­tion Z and oth­er gen­er­a­tions from 2010 to 2022. While Gen Z grew steadi­ly dur­ing this peri­od, mil­len­ni­als were con­sis­tent­ly greater in num­ber, at 72.2 mil­lion in 2022, the largest of all gen­er­a­tions that year.

At the state lev­el, Cal­i­for­nia is home to the largest num­ber of Gen Zers, with about 8.2 mil­lion, fol­lowed by Texas with approx­i­mate­ly 6.9 mil­lion. Wyoming and Ver­mont have the fewest zoomers, with over 124,000 and 128,000, respectively. 

Look Up How Many Gen Zers Live in Your State

Gen Z is more racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse than old­er generations.

About half of Gen Zers are white (51%), while one-fourth (25%) are Lati­no or His­pan­ic, 15% are Black, 6% are Asian or Pacif­ic Islander, 5% have two or more races and 2% are Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native. 

By con­trast, a greater share of mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers are white: 55%, 60% and 72%, respec­tive­ly. Gen Alpha, on the oth­er hand, is on track to be the most diverse gen­er­a­tion yet, as just under half (48%) are white.

Gen­er­a­tion Z also became slight­ly more diverse between 2010 and 2022, with the share of white Gen Zers decreas­ing by two per­cent­age points and the share of Asians and Pacif­ic Islanders and Lati­nos each increas­ing by one per­cent­age point.

Zoomers increas­ing­ly rep­re­sent immi­grant families.

Kids under age 18 in immi­grant fam­i­lies — mean­ing either the child is for­eign-born or lives with at least one for­eign-born par­ent — grew more com­mon as Gen Zers grew up over the past two decades, jump­ing from 19% of the country’s total child pop­u­la­tion in 2000 to 25% in 2021. The vast major­i­ty (90%) of these chil­dren are U.S. cit­i­zens.

Among youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 in 20172021, cap­tur­ing many old­er Gen Zers, more than 1 in 5 (22%) were immi­grants or lived in immi­grant fam­i­lies, the same as pre­vi­ous years.

Gen­er­a­tion Z and Pover­ty: Have They Grown Up Poor?

At peak pover­ty rates in 2011 and 2012, almost 1 in 4 Gen Zers lived in poverty.

Gen Z has expe­ri­enced excep­tion­al­ly high pover­ty rates — greater than those of mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers dur­ing 2010 to 2021 (the years avail­able on the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter). The share of zoomers liv­ing in pover­ty reached a peak of 23% in 2011 and 2012, then steadi­ly fell to 17% — about 11.3 mil­lion young peo­ple — by 2021. Pover­ty rates for Gen Alpha have been the high­est of all gen­er­a­tions, start­ing at 25% in 2013 and dip­ping to 18% (about 6.1 mil­lion kids) in 2021.

Over­all child pover­ty rates for kids under age 18 between 2000 and 2022 gen­er­al­ly mir­rored those of Gen Z, sum­mit­ing at 23% in 2011 and 2012, then drop­ping to 16% by 2022

In 2012, Gen Zers were still grow­ing up, and near­ly half — almost 30 mil­lion — were low-income.

In 2011 and 2012, Gen Zers were ages 0 to 15, and 46% lived in low-income fam­i­lies, mean­ing their income was less than 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el. A decade lat­er in 2021, the share of low-income Gen Zers fell to 36% or about 23.8 million.

In 2021, 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el for a fam­i­ly of two adults and two chil­dren was $54,958.

Dur­ing 2010 to 2021, a larg­er share of zoomers lived in low-income house­holds than mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers. How­ev­er, since Gen Alpha start­ed in 2013, a greater per­cent­age of this gen­er­a­tion has lived in low-income fam­i­lies than all oth­er generations.

In which states are Gen Zers most like­ly to be poor?

Mis­sis­sip­pi, Louisiana and New Mex­i­co have the high­est rates of Gen Zers liv­ing in pover­ty and in low-income fam­i­lies, accord­ing to 2021 data. Specifically: 

Look up How Many Gen Zers Are Liv­ing in Pover­ty or in Low-Income Fam­i­lies in Your State

A major­i­ty of Black, Lati­no and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native Gen Zers are low-income.

For Gen­er­a­tion Z — and all oth­er gen­er­a­tions — Black Amer­i­cans, Amer­i­can Indi­ans or Alas­ka Natives and Lati­no Amer­i­cans dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly live in low-income house­holds. Accord­ing to the lat­est data by race and eth­nic­i­ty, more than half of Black (56%), Amer­i­can Indi­an (56%) and Lati­no (52%) zoomers were liv­ing in low-income fam­i­lies in 20162020, well above the nation­al aver­age of 39% and fig­ures for those with two or more races (38%), Asians and Pacif­ic Islanders (31%) and white Gen Zers (28%).

Sim­i­lar dis­par­i­ties hold true when look­ing at a dif­fer­ent mea­sure of low-income young peo­ple ages 14 to 24 in 20152019, which showed that about half (49%) of Lati­nos were liv­ing in low-income fam­i­lies, and the same was true for more than half of Black (53%) and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native (54%) young peo­ple. This is com­pared to 39% or less for their Asian and Pacif­ic Islander peers, those with two or more races and white youth and young adults.

Find data on low-income Gen Zers by race and eth­nic­i­ty in your state

While pover­ty rates have improved for Black, Lati­no, Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native Gen Zers, these groups are still most like­ly to live in poverty.

For many decades, pover­ty rates have been dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly high for peo­ple of col­or regard­less of age. Although pover­ty rates have dropped sub­stan­tial­ly for Black, Amer­i­can Indi­an and Lati­no zoomers since peak lev­els in 20092013, these racial and eth­nic groups con­tin­ue to be the most like­ly to live in pover­ty, based on avail­able data. For instance, accord­ing to 20162020 data, 29% of both Black and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native Gen Zers, and 24% of Lati­nos were liv­ing in pover­ty, com­pared to 12% of white, 14% of Asian or Pacif­ic Islander and 17% of those with two or more races.

These and oth­er data on the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter illus­trate that Gen Z chil­dren and fam­i­lies of col­or — as well as the gen­er­a­tions before and after them — con­sis­tent­ly have inad­e­quate oppor­tu­ni­ties to thrive, result­ing from long-stand­ing, struc­tur­al inequities in society.

Find Gen Z pover­ty rates by race and eth­nic­i­ty for your state

Edu­ca­tion Stats: Pos­i­tive News for Zoomers 

When the old­est Gen Zers reached eighth grade around 2011, the per­cent­age of U.S. eighth graders scor­ing pro­fi­cient in math hit its high­est lev­el since 200034%.

While Gen­er­a­tion Z made its way through the school sys­tem over the last cou­ple decades, sev­er­al bell­wether edu­ca­tion indi­ca­tors improved, such as fourth grade read­ing and eighth grade math achieve­ment lev­els. The old­est mem­bers of Gen Z reached eighth grade in 2010 or 2011. The share of eighth grade stu­dents scor­ing pro­fi­cient or bet­ter in math rose to a high of 34% in 2011, up from 25% in 2000. The fig­ure remained fair­ly steady between 2011 and 2019 and then plunged to 26% in 2022.

When the old­est zoomers reached ages 16 to 19, only 4% of teens in this age group were out of school and lack­ing a high school diploma.

From 2013 to 2021, as more and more Gen Zers entered ado­les­cence and young adult­hood, the per­cent­age of youth ages 16 to 19 who were not in school and did not com­plete high school remained even at 4%, sub­stan­tial­ly low­er than the 11% in 2000.

In addi­tion, the share of high school stu­dents not grad­u­at­ing on time also improved from 18% to 14% between 2013 and 2020 (the most recent data avail­able on the KIDS COUNT Data Center). 

See More Gen Z Edu­ca­tion Data

As Gen Zers reached col­lege age, near­ly half of young adults were enrolling in or com­plet­ing college.

The share of young adults ages 18 to 24 who were enrolled in or fin­ished with col­lege has held steady at just under 50% ever since Gen Zers reached age 18 in 2015. This fig­ure is a marked improve­ment from 36% in 2000

See Col­lege Rates for Your State

When the last of Gen­er­a­tion Z was born in 2012, the share of births to moth­ers with less than a high school diplo­ma had fall­en to 17%.

Gen Z par­ents have become increas­ing­ly edu­cat­ed, too. The share of births to moms with less than 12 years of edu­ca­tion began declin­ing after 2006, from a high of 26%, down to 17% in 2012. This trend con­tin­ued for the next gen­er­a­tion, Gen Alpha, with the fig­ure drop­ping to 11% as of 2021.

Read Our Gen Z and Edu­ca­tion Blog Post for More Gen Z Stats

Preg­nan­cy, Par­ent­ing and Fos­ter Care

As Gen Z kids grew up, their chances of going into fos­ter care went down.

The like­li­hood of chil­dren, birth to age 17, being in fos­ter care dipped from 8 to 5 in every 1,000 kids between 2000 and 2021. The U.S. fos­ter care sys­tem is meant to pro­vide safe, tem­po­rary liv­ing arrange­ments and sup­port ser­vices for chil­dren who have been removed from their fam­i­lies due to mal­treat­ment, lack of safe­ty or inad­e­quate care. How­ev­er, some kids nev­er leave fos­ter care and age out” of the sys­tem, lack­ing ade­quate sup­port to thrive as young adults on their own. In addi­tion, chil­dren of col­or are over­rep­re­sent­ed in fos­ter care and more like­ly to expe­ri­ence poor outcomes. 

See a Nation­al Sum­ma­ry of the Lat­est Fos­ter Care Statistics

Teen births fell by 69% from the mil­len­ni­al rate in 2000 to the Gen Z rate in 2020.

Teen births dropped with Gen­er­a­tion Z — going from 48 births per 1,000 Mil­len­ni­al teens ages 15 to 19 in 2000 to just 14 per 1,000 Gen Z teens 15 to 19 in 2021. The share of young adults ages 18 to 24 who are par­ents also has been declin­ing nation­wide, and fell from 10% in 20092013 to 6% in 20162020.

While efforts to reduce teen births and unplanned preg­nan­cy among young adults have worked in recent decades, the nation still has mil­lions of young par­ents who need sup­port nav­i­gat­ing com­mon chal­lenges, such as finan­cial and hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty, inter­rupt­ed edu­ca­tion, employ­ment obsta­cles, par­ent­ing stress, health issues and access to qual­i­ty child care and health care.

The share of Gen Zers born to unmar­ried women increased from 32% to 41%.

At the start of Gen­er­a­tion Z in 1997, near­ly one-third (32%) of births were to unmar­ried women. That fig­ure jumped to 41% by 2012, the last year that Gen Zers were born. As of 2021, it was still hold­ing at 40%.

Giv­en that sta­tis­tic, it may not be sur­pris­ing that chil­dren liv­ing in sin­­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies grew more com­mon, too, over the past two decades, ris­ing from 31% in 2000 to 34% in 2021

See sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­ly data for your state

Kids of sin­gle par­ents, espe­cial­ly sin­gle moms, are more like­ly to expe­ri­ence pover­ty and its seri­ous con­se­quences, includ­ing phys­i­cal, men­tal and behav­ioral health prob­lems, poor aca­d­e­m­ic out­comes and oth­er poten­tial­ly life­long challenges.

Men­tal Health and Health Insur­ance Access: Gen Z Young Adults, in Par­tic­u­lar, Need Support

Near­ly 1 in 5 young adult Gen Zers lacked health insur­ance as of fall 2022.

As mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Z have grown up, the share of chil­dren with­out health care cov­er­age has been reduced by half, from 10% of kids under age 18 lack­ing insur­ance in 2008 (the ear­li­est year on the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter) to just 5% in 2022. Still, this leaves near­ly 4 mil­lion chil­dren with­out health care coverage.

When we include old­er mem­bers of Gen Z, the pic­ture gets worse, with approx­i­mate­ly 11% of youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 with­out health insur­ance in 20172021. Fur­ther, a recent sur­vey of young adults 18 to 24 found that near­ly one in five (17%) did not have cov­er­age as of fall 2022.

Obtain­ing and main­tain­ing qual­i­ty health insur­ance is crit­i­cal in order to address phys­i­cal and men­tal health needs.

More than 1 in 4 Gen Z mem­bers report men­tal health struggles.

Gen Zers are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly (27%) than oth­er gen­er­a­tions, includ­ing mil­len­ni­als (15%) and Gen Xers (13%), to report their men­tal health as fair or poor,” accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. The KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter backs this up with mul­ti­ple mea­sures relat­ed to depres­sion and anx­i­ety span­ning chil­dren, youth and young adults, includ­ing Gen Zers, show­ing a trou­bling rise in men­tal health issues. For example: 

Youth of col­or and LGBTQ young peo­ple face increased risks of sui­cide and lack of access to care.

One-third of Gen Z young adults felt per­sis­tent hope­less, depressed feel­ings in 2022.

Accord­ing to a recent Cen­sus Bureau sur­vey, 33% of Gen Z young adults 18 to 24 report­ed per­sis­tent depressed, down or hope­less feel­ings in the fall of 2022, sim­i­lar to results over the pre­vi­ous year. 

Access to men­tal health care remains a seri­ous prob­lem for many peo­ple, as well. In 2021, for instance, only 45% of young adults ages 18 to 25 with any men­tal ill­ness received treat­ment.

Gen Z and Tech­nol­o­gy: Their Com­fort Zone

While near­ly all (95%) Gen Z teens ages 13 to 17 have access to smart­phones, low-income teens are less like­ly to have computers.

Accord­ing to a 2022 Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 (cap­tur­ing a slice of Gen Z youth who cur­rent­ly range from ages 10 to 26), teen smart­phone access does not dif­fer great­ly for low­er- and high­er-income house­holds: 93% ver­sus 96%, respec­tive­ly. How­ev­er, 94% of teens in house­holds earn­ing over $75,000 a year have access to com­put­ers, com­pared to 79% of teens from low-income house­holds mak­ing less than $30,000 a year. 

Access to com­put­ers and lap­tops at home, along with high-speed inter­net, is increas­ing­ly essen­tial for aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess, parental employ­ment, health care and oth­er impor­tant fam­i­ly needs.

Close to half of Gen Z teens report being online almost constantly.

Accord­ing to the same 2022 sur­vey of teens 13 to 17, an increas­ing share of youth say that they’re online almost con­stant­ly: 46% in 2022, near­ly twice the 24% report­ed in 201415. Of course, with Gen Z being born after 1996, and grow­ing up with the inter­net, com­put­ers, mobile devices, cell ser­vice and the near-con­stant abil­i­ty to be con­nect­ed, liv­ing life online has essen­tial­ly been assumed.

Read More about Gen Z and Technology

YouTube and Tik­Tok top the social media list for today’s Gen Z teens.

YouTube is by far the most pop­u­lar online social media plat­form among teens ages 13 to 17 in 2022, used by 95%, fol­lowed by Tik­Tok, used by 67%. Among the five most fre­quent­ly used plat­forms — YouTube, Tik­Tok, Insta­gram, Snapchat and Face­book — more than one-third (35%) of teens said they use one or more of these plat­forms almost constantly.

Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions About Gen­er­a­tion Z

How many Gen Zers are there in the Unit­ed States?

It is esti­mat­ed that Gen­er­a­tion Z includes near­ly 70 mil­lion young peo­ple.

What per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is Gen Z?

About 20%, with the same for Gen X (19.9%), and a bit more for mil­len­ni­als and baby boomers (both 22%), accord­ing to a Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion analy­sis in 2020

What is the year range for Gen Z ver­sus oth­er gen­er­a­tions?

  • Gen Alpha: 2013 to 2025
  • Gen Z: 1997 to 2012
  • Mil­len­ni­als: 1981 to 1996
  • Gen X: 1965 to 1980
  • Baby boomers: 1946 to 1964

How old are Gen Zers?

In 2023, they spanned ages 10 to 26.

How many Gen Zers will be eli­gi­ble to vote in Novem­ber 2024?

Gen­er­a­tion Z will com­prise 17% of all eli­gi­ble vot­ers in 2024, accord­ing to the States of Change: Demo­graph­ics and Democ­ra­cy project.

What are the val­ues of Gen­er­a­tion Z?

Check out our blogs on the Core Char­ac­ter­is­tics of Gen­er­a­tion Z and Social Issues Impor­tant to Gen­er­a­tion Z.

Is Gen Z the poor­est generation?

Gen Z has expe­ri­enced high­er pover­ty rates than mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers, accord­ing to the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, but Gen Alpha is the poor­est gen­er­a­tion to date. Sim­i­lar­ly, a greater share of Gen Zers live in low-income fam­i­lies com­pared to old­er gen­er­a­tions, but a slight­ly small­er share of Gen Zers are low-income com­pared to mem­bers of Gen Alpha.

Learn More About Gen­er­a­tion Z

See the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ters new Gen Z indi­ca­tors list­ed below, as well as a new dataset on youth and young adults ages 14 to 24, cap­tur­ing many old­er Gen Zers. 

New KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter indi­ca­tors on Gen Z and oth­er generations:

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