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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017


America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017 continues a series of annual reports to the Nation on conditions affecting children in the United States. Highlights from each section follow.

Demographic Background

  • There were 73.6 million children ages 0–17 in the United States in 2016, which was 1.2 million more than in 2000. The number of children is projected to increase to 76.3 million in 2030 (POP1).
  • Racial and ethnic diversity have grown dramatically in the United States in the last three decades. This growth was first evident among children. This population is projected to become even more diverse in the decades to come. In 2020, less than half of all children are projected to be White, non-Hispanic. By 2050, 32 percent of U.S. children are projected to be Hispanic (up from 25 percent in 2016), and 39 percent are projected to be White, non-Hispanic (down from 51 percent in 2016) (POP3).

Family and Social Environment

  • In 2016, 69 percent of children ages 0–17 lived with two parents (65 percent with two married parents and 4 percent with two unmarried cohabiting parents), 23 percent lived with only their mothers, 4 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived without a parent in the household. (FAM1)
  • In 2015, the birth rate among unmarried women ages 15–44 was 43 births for every 1,000 women, down from 52 per 1,000 in 2007, when rates had reached their peak. Between 1980 and 2015, the percentage of all births to unmarried women increased by 22 percentage points, from 18 percent to 40 percent. (FAM2)
  • In 2016, 22 percent of children were native-born children with at least one foreign-born parent, and 3 percent were foreign-born children with at least one foreign-born parent. (FAM4)
  • In 2015, about 22 percent of school-age children spoke a language other than English at home, and 4 percent of school-age children both spoke a language other than English at home and had difficulty speaking English. (FAM5)
  • Between 1980 and 2015, the birth rate among adolescents ages 15–17 declined from 33 live births per 1,000 females to 10 per 1,000, a record low for the country. (FAM6)
  • In 2015, children under age 1 were at much higher risk for being victims of child maltreatment than were older children. There were 24.2 maltreated children per 1,000 children under age 1, more than twice the rate of any other age group. (FAM7)

Economic Circumstances

  • Twenty percent of all children ages 0–17 lived in poverty in 2015, down from 21 percent in 2014. In 2015, more children lived in families with medium income (28 percent) than in families in any other income group. (ECON1)
  • The percentage of children who had at least one parent working year round, full time remained at 75 percent from 2014 to 2015. (ECON2)
  • About 13.1 million children (18 percent of all children) lived in households that were classified as food insecure in 2015. (ECON3)

Health Care

  • The percentage of children ages 0–17 without health insurance at the time of interview decreased from 14 percent in 1993 to 5 percent in 2015. (HC1)
  • In 2015, about 4 percent of children ages 0–17 had no usual source of health care. Almost three in ten uninsured children (29 percent) had no usual source of care, compared with 2 percent of children with private insurance and 4 percent with public insurance. (HC2)
  • In 2015, about 72 percent of children ages 19–35 months received the recommended combined seven-vaccine series. (HC3)

Physical Environment and Safety

  • In 2015, about 59 percent of children lived in counties with measured pollutant concentrations above the levels of one or more National Ambient Air Quality Standards at least once during the year. Ozone is the pollutant that is most often measured above its current air pollution standard. (PHY1)
  • In 2011–2014, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels (at or above 5 micrograms lead per deciliter of blood) was 1 percent, compared with 26 percent in 1988–1994. (PHY4)
  • In 2015, 39 percent of U.S. households (both owners and renters) with children had one or more of three housing problems: physically inadequate housing, crowded housing, or housing cost burden greater than 30 percent of household income. This was down from 40 percent in 2013. (PHY5)
  • In 2012–2013, falls were the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits among children ages 1–4 (48 visits per 1,000) and 5–14 (24 visits per 1,000). In 2015, motor-vehicle-related injury deaths were the leading injury-related cause of death among children ages 1–4 and 5–14. (PHY7)
  • In 2012–2013, being struck by or against a person or object (23 visits per 1,000), falls (22 visits per 1,000), and motor vehicle traffic-related injuries (18 visits per 1,000) were the leading causes of injury-related emergency department visits among adolescents ages 15–19. In 2015, motor vehicle-related injury deaths were the leading injury-related cause of death among adolescents ages 15–19. (PHY8)


  • In 2016, the percentages of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days were the lowest in the history of the survey. (BEH1)
  • From 2015 to 2016, reports of illicit drug use in the past 30 days decreased significantly for 8th-graders but remained steady for 10th- and 12th-grade students, at 7 percent, 16 percent, and 24 percent in 2016. (BEH3)
  • After more than a decade of stability, the percentage of high school students who reported ever having had sexual intercourse dropped from 47 to 41 percent between 2013 and 2015. (BEH4)
  • In 2015, the serious violent crime offending rate was 8 crimes per 1,000 youth ages 12–17, totaling 188,000 serious violent crimes involving youth. (BEH5)


  • The average 8th-grade mathematics score was lower in 2015 (282) than in 2013 (285). The average 8th-grade reading score in 2015 (265) was lower than the score in 2013 (268). (ED2)
  • In 2015, some 93 percent of young adults ages 18–24 had completed high school with a diploma or an alternative credential such as a GED certificate. The high school completion rate has increased since 1980, when it was 84 percent. (ED4)
  • In 2015, some 69 percent of high school completers enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year college in the fall immediately following their graduation from high school. (ED6)


  • Between 2006 and 2015, the percentage of preterm infants declined from 12.8 percent to 9.6 percent. In 2015, 8 percent of infants were born with low birthweight, up from 7 percent in 1980. (HEALTH1)
  • Between 1983 and 2014, the infant mortality rate declined from 10.9 deaths per 1,000 live births to 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. (HEALTH2)
  • In 2015, parents reported a higher percentage of serious emotional or behavioral difficulties among males than females for those ages 4–7 (5 percent versus 2 percent), ages 8–10 (8 percent versus 5 percent), and ages 11–14 (9 percent versus 6 percent). The percentages were similar for adolescents ages 15–17 (6 percent of males versus 5 percent of females). (HEALTH3)
  • In 2015, about 12 percent of the population ages 12–17 had a major depressive episode during the past year. (HEALTH4)
  • In 2011–2014, about 18 percent of children ages 6–11 and 21 percent of adolescents ages 12–17 had obesity. (HEALTH7)
  • In 2015, 13 percent of children ages 0–17 had been diagnosed with asthma at some time in their lives and 8 percent of children were reported to currently have asthma. The prevalence of children with current asthma increased from 2001 to 2010 then declined through 2015. (HEALTH8)

Special Feature: Peer Victimization

  • In the spring of 2014, about 6 percent of 3rd-graders were identified as perpetrators of at least one of the four types of peer victimization incidents: Five percent frequently teased, made fun of, or called other students names; 3 percent frequently told lies or untrue stories about other students; 2 percent frequently pushed, shoved, slapped, hit, or kicked other students; and 2 percent frequently excluded other students from play on purpose.
  • Higher percentages of 3rd-graders who were reported by teachers to frequently push, shove, slap, hit, or kick other students were living below the poverty threshold (5 percent) or between 100 percent and 199 percent of the poverty threshold (3 percent) compared with children who were living at 200 percent or more of the poverty threshold (1 percent).
  • Higher percentages of 3rd-graders from city schools than from suburban schools were identified as frequent perpetrators of all four types of peer victimization covered in this special feature.