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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2018

Demographic Background

Understanding the changing demographic characteristics of America's children is critical for shaping social programs and policies. The number of children determines the demand for schools, health care, and other social services that are essential for meeting the daily needs of families. While the number of children living in the United States has grown, the ratio of children to adults has decreased. At the same time, the racial and ethnic composition of the Nation's children continues to change. Demographic composition provides an important context for understanding the indicators presented here and a glimpse of future American families.

POP1: Number of children ages 0–17 in the United States, 1950–2017 and projected 2018–2050
Number of children ages 0–17 in the United States, 1950–2017 and projected 2018–2050

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.

There were 73.7 million children in the United States in 2017, which was 1.3 million more than in 2000. This number is projected to increase to 76.3 million in 2030. In 2017 (the latest year of data available at the time of publication), there were fewer children in the 0–5 age group (23.9 million) than in the 6–11 age group (24.7 million) or the 12–17 age group (25.1 million).

POP2: Children ages 0–17 and adults ages 65 and older as a percentage of the U.S. population, 1950–2017 and projected 2018–2050
Children ages 0–17 and adults ages 65 and older as a percentage of the U.S. population, 1950–2017 and projected 2018–2050

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.

Since the 1960s, children have decreased as a percentage of the total U.S. population. In 2017, children made up 23 percent of the population, down from a peak of 36 percent at the end of the "baby boom," in 1964. Children's share of the population is projected to continue its slow decline through 2050, when children are projected to make up 20 percent of the population.

table icon POP1 HTML Table, POP2 HTML Table, POP3 HTML Table