Understanding the changing demographic characteristics of America’s children is critical for shaping marketing, media, social programs and policies. The number of children determines the demand for toys, games, children focused brands, media, schools, health care, and other social services that are essential to meet 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. When combined, these measures provide an important context for understanding the key trends in this very important niche and provide a glimpse of what the future may be like for American families.
In 2008, there were 73.9 million children in the United States, 1.6 million more than in 2000. This number is projected to increase to 82 million in 2021. In 2008, there were approximately equal numbers of children in three age groups: 0–5 (25 million), 6–11 (24 million), and 12–17 (25 million) years of age.
Since the mid-1960s, children have been decreasing as a proportion of the total U.S. population. In 2008, children made up 24 percent of the population, down from a peak of 36 percent at the end of the “baby boom” (1964). Children are projected to remain a fairly stable percentage of the total population through 2021, when they are projected to compose 24 percent of the population.
Racial and ethnic diversity has grown dramatically in the United States in the last three decades. This increased diversity appeared first among children and later in the older population. The population is projected to become even more diverse in the decades to come. In 2008, 56 percent of U.S. children were White, non-Hispanic; 22 percent were Hispanic; 15 percent were Black; 4 percent were Asian; and 5 percent were “All other races.” The percentage of children who are Hispanic has increased faster than that of any other racial or ethnic group, growing from 9 percent of the child population in 1980 to 22 percent in 2008. By 2021, it is projected that 1 in 4 children in the United States will be of Hispanic origin.
Source U.S. Census