The Share of Kids in America Fell Faster Than Expected in 2018

Posted September 16, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates childrencomprisesmallestshare 2019

Chil­dren rep­re­sent only 22% of peo­ple liv­ing in the Unit­ed States — down from 23% in 2017 and 26% in 1990, which is the ear­li­est year cap­tured in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Chil­dren took up the great­est share of the nation’s pop­u­la­tion in 1960, when they rep­re­sent­ed 36% of all Amer­i­cans. The group’s pop­u­la­tion count peaked lat­er — in 2009, with 74.1 mil­lion kids on record nation­wide. Since that time, the total num­ber of kids in Amer­i­ca has steadi­ly fall­en and now sits at 73.4 mil­lion, accord­ing to U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s pop­u­la­tion division.

By con­trast, the num­ber of adults liv­ing in Amer­i­ca has grown each year since 2009.

This trend — some­times described as the gray­ing of Amer­i­ca, with larg­er num­bers of adults reach­ing retire­ment age — has long been antic­i­pat­ed by demog­ra­phers. How­ev­er, as recent­ly as 2014, the Cen­sus Bureau did not expect the share of chil­dren to fall to 22% until 2030. Sub­se­quent pro­jec­tions in 2017 esti­mat­ed that the Unit­ed States would be 22% kids by 2020 and hov­er just above 21% by 2035, when it is pre­dict­ed that peo­ple ages 65 and old­er will out­num­ber chil­dren.

At the local lev­el, child pop­u­la­tion rates have fall­en in all 50 states plus the Dis­trict of Colum­bia since 1990. The drops were great­est in Maine, New Hamp­shire and Ver­mont, where the share of kids in each state fell from 25% in 1990 to 19% in 2018. New Jer­sey report­ed the small­est change, with kids rep­re­sent­ing 23% of the state’s total pop­u­la­tion in 1990 and 22% in 2018.

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families