U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Population Characteristics

The increasing diversity of the United States population is reflected in the sociodemographic characteristics of children and their families. The percentage of children who are Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander has more than doubled since 1980, while the percentage who are non-Hispanic White has declined. The percentage of children who are Black has remained relatively stable. This reflects the changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of the population as a whole.

At the national, State, and local levels, policymakers use population information to address health-related issues that affect mothers, children, and families. By carefully analyzing and comparing available data, public health professionals can often identify high-risk populations that could benefit from specific interventions.

This section presents data on several population characteristics that influence maternal and child health program development and evaluation. Included are data on the age and racial and ethnic distribution of the U.S. population, as well as data on the poverty status of children and their families, child care arrangements, and school engagement.

The topics in this section include:

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