Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. PF 1.2 Children as a percentage of the population

04/01/1997

The proportion of the total population who are children can have important consequences for the entire population, including children. On the one hand, because children are for the most part dependent and in need of investment to become productive citizens, they may present special short-term fiscal challenges to society when they constitute a relatively higher proportion of the overall population. On the other hand, as they grow up to become productive adults they will provide support for those entering retirement and for the next generation of children.

Figure PF 1.2 illustrates trends in the proportion of the population under age 18 from 1940 through 1996, with projections through the year 2020. In 1940 and 1950, children constituted 31 percent of the overall population. During the next decade, children as a proportion of the population rose rapidly to 36 percent. The rise in birthrates that produced this increase in the proportion of children in the population during the 1950s is commonly known as the baby boom. Since that peak in 1960, the percentage has been declining to its current level of 26 percent. Projections by the Bureau of the Census predict that this proportion will drop further to 24 percent by the year 2010, and will remain at approximately that level through 2020.
 

Figure PF 1.2 
Children Under Age 18 as a Percentage of the Total Population: 19402020

FIGPF1_2.GIF

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of Population and Housing, Summary Population and Housing Characteristics (CPH-1-1) Table 1. U.S. Bureau of Census, 1970 Census Volume, Characteristics of the Population, U.S. Summary, Table 52. 1980 Census Volume, General Population Characteristics, U.S. Summary, Table 41. Current Population Reports, Series P-25, No. 311, Estimates of the Population of the Unites States by Single Years of Age, Color, and Sex, 1900 to 1959. Series P-25, No. 917, Preliminary Estimates of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, and Race: 1970 to 1981, Table 2. PPL-41 Estimates of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1990 to 1995, Updated Tables, Appendix A. Series P-25, No. 1130, Projections of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050, Table 2.

 

Table PF 1.2  
Children Under Age 18 as a Percentage of the Total Population:  19402020

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
             
Projected
 
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
1996
2000
2010
2020
 
                   
All Children                    
Ages 0-17
31
31
36
34
28
26
26
26
24
24
                     

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of Population and Housing, Summary Population and Housing Characteristics (CPH-1-1) Table 1. U.S. Bureau of Census, 1970 Census Volume, Characteristics of the Population, U.S. Summary, Table 52. 1980 Census Volume, General Population Characteristics, U.S. Summary, Table 41. Current Population Reports, Series P-25, No. 311, Estimates of the Population of the Unites States by Single Years of Age, Color, and Sex, 1900 to 1959. Series P-25, No. 917, Preliminary Estimates of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, and Race: 1970 to 1981, Table 2. PPL-41 Estimates of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1990 to 1995, Updated Tables, Appendix A. Series P-25, No. 1130, Projections of the Population of the United States by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050, Table 2.

 

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