In 2019, Kids More Likely Than Ever to Live With Educated Parents

Posted February 11, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Percentage of children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma (2019)

Just 12% of kids in the Unit­ed States in 2019 lived in house­holds where no par­ent held at least a high school diplo­ma, accord­ing to the lat­est Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey data. This is the small­est share ever of chil­dren whose par­ents lack an essen­tial cre­den­tial for being able to advance in careers and pro­vide for their families.

Nev­er­the­less, per­sis­tent racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties under­score the need for pol­i­cy­mak­ers to con­tin­ue to think about ways to ensure child and fam­i­ly well-being.

The most recent analy­sis of Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey data by the Pop­u­la­tion Ref­er­ence Bureau indi­cates that the per­cent­age of chil­dren whose par­ents do not have a high school diplo­ma equiv­a­lent or high­er fell from 13% in 2018 to 12% in 2019. This fig­ure has been slow­ly declin­ing for years but had held steady between 2017 and 2018.

The encour­ag­ing news is tem­pered by an espe­cial­ly sig­nif­i­cant dis­par­i­ty between His­pan­ic or Lati­no fam­i­lies and the nation­al aver­age. In 2019, 29% of His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren were grow­ing up in set­tings where no par­ent in the house­hold had a high school diplo­ma or its equiv­a­lent, lim­it­ing their earn­ing poten­tial. The fig­ure for Amer­i­can Indi­ans (17%) was also greater than the over­all nation­al share. White chil­dren (5%) were least like­ly to have no par­ents with a diploma.

The data also reveal dif­fer­ent con­di­tions among the states for His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren.

In four states for which data were avail­able for 2019 — Flori­da (18%), New Mex­i­co (18%), Hawaii (9%) and West Vir­ginia (5%) — few­er than one in five His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren lived in a house­hold where no one held a high school diplo­ma. This was also true in Puer­to Rico (12%).

How­ev­er, in Alaba­ma (41%), North Car­oli­na (39%), Ten­nessee (39%), Geor­gia (38%), Mary­land (36%), Neva­da (35%) and Arkansas (35%), more than one in three His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren lived in such settings.

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