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

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Population of Children

In 2008, there were nearly 74 million children under 18 years of age in the United States, representing nearly 25 percent of the population. Young adults aged 18–24 years made up another 9.8 percent of the population, while adults aged 25–64 years composed 53.1 percent of the population, and adults aged 65 years and older composed 12.8 percent.

The age distribution of the population has shifted significantly in the past several decades. The percentage of the population that is under 18 fell from 28.2 percent in 1980 to 24.3 percent in 2008. The representation of young adults (aged 18–24 years) has also fallen, from 13.3 percent to 9.8 percent. During this time period, the percentage of the population that is aged 25–64 years has increased from 47.3 percent to 53.1 percent, and the percentage that is over 65 years has increased from 11.3 percent to 12.8 percent. The median age in the United States has increased from 30.0 years in 1980 to 36.8 years in 2008.

The shifting racial/ethnic makeup of the child population (under 18 years) reflects the increasing diversity of the population as a whole. Hispanic children represented fewer than 9 percent of children in 1980, compared to nearly 22 percent in 2008, and the proportion of children who are Asian/Pacific Islander increased from less than 2 percent to 4.4 percent during the same period. The percentage of children who are Black has remained relatively steady over the same period, around 15 percent. However, the percentage of children who are non-Hispanic White has fallen significantly, from 74.3 percent in 1980 to 56.2 percent in 2008.

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