Today, the number of children (under age 18) in the United States is at an all-time high of 74.2 million. But, the share of the national population who are children is at an all time low of 24%. Based on data from the 2010 census, we find that while there is a small increase in the number of children, the rate at which that population is growing has slowed dramatically over the past 20 years.
Changes in the number of children in the United States
Findings & Stats on the U.S. Population Under 18
There was a relatively small increase in the number of children during the 2000 to 2010 period, as the under-18 population grew by 1.9 million. The increase was much lower than the increase during the 1990s when the child population grew by 8.7 million.
Breaking it Down
Children of mixed race grew at a faster rate than any other group over the past decade, from 1.9 million in 2000 to 2.8 million in 2010 (a 46% increase). Minority children (any group other than non-Hispanic white) accounted for 46% of the population under 18 in 2010, up from 39% in 1990.
The number of Hispanic children grew by 4.8 million (or 39%) between 2000 and 2010.The number of non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander children grew by nearly 800,000 (31%) between 2000 and 2010.
Decrease in Numbers
Non-Hispanic white children, non-Hispanic black, and non-Hispanic American and Alaskan Native children all decreased in population between 2000 and 2010.
State-level changes in the number of children ranged from a 30% increase in Nevada to a 12% decrease in Vermont and Washington, D.C. Texas gained the most number of children (+979,065) while New York lost the most (-365,178).
The 2010 census found 14.2 million children (19% of all children in the U.S.) living in the country’s largest 100 cities. Nearly three-quarters of the child population in the 100 largest cities belong to a racial or Hispanic minority group. Fifty-five of the 100 largest cities experience an increase in the number of children between 2000 and 2010.
Implications of Slower Growth
Slower pace of growth for children is likely to reduce the demand for new schools, more teachers, and related infrastructure, but educational systems will likely need to address the needs of English Language Learners.
Statements & Quotations
Children accounted for 40% of the population in 1990, but they account for only 24% today. Much of the decline in the relative size of the population under age 18 occurred during the second half of the last century.
It is important to note that the child population is growing rapidly in many states where child outcomes are among the worst in the country. Of the five states that experienced increases in the number of children since 2000 (Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona), none rank in the top half of states based on the comprehensive measure of child well-being presented in the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book.