Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. PF 1.6 Children as a percentage of the dependent population

04/01/1997

 
Children and senior citizens frequently depend on assistance from family members, friends, and government agencies. Both the young and old are less likely than other age groups to fully support themselves through participation in the labor market. Varying proportions of both the child population and the elderly population therefore receive income transfers, health care, and other services through public programs. This indicator looks at children (under age 18) as a percentage of the dependent population (children under age 18 + adults ages 65 and older).

Senior Citizen Population Grows in Relation to Child Population. The number of children in the U.S. declined after 1970, while the number of senior citizens increased (see Table PF 1.1 earlier in this volume). Children under 18 went from being 79 percent of the dependent population in 1960 to 67 percent , where it has stayed since 1990 (see Table PF1.6). Despite the fact that the child population is growing again, this slow downward trend is expected to continue, and the growth of the elderly population will continue to outpace growth in the child population.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity. The trend toward a larger senior population relative to the child population is occurring among all racial and ethnic groups. Table PF 1.6 shows that between 1980 and 1990, children declined as a percentage of the dependent population across all racial and ethnic groups. Population projections for 2010 suggest that there will be even more seniors relative to children in each group at that time.

Yet there are also considerable differences across groups in the number of children relative to senior citizens. There are far fewer white children relative to white senior citizens than there are minority children relative to minority seniors. White children are currently estimated to make up about 61 percent of the white dependent population. African-Americans are closest to whites with children making up 79 percent of the combined child and elderly population total. Among Hispanics, children outnumber seniors by the greatest margin, with children estimated to be 86 percent of the dependent population.

 

Figure PF 1.6  
Percentage of Children in the Dependent Population (Persons Age 65 and Over and Those Under Age 18) by Race/Ethnicity 

FIGPF1_6.GIF

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, P25-1095. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Division, release PPL-41, United States Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin 1990 to 1995" and updated tables. Day, Jennifer Cheeseman, Population Projections of the United States by Age, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, P25-1130, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1996.
 

Table PF 1.6  
Percentage of Children in the Dependent Population (Persons Age 65 and Over and Those Under Age 18) by Race/Ethnicity

 
                                             
   
1960
1970
1980
1990
Estimate
1996
Projecteda
2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
               
Total
 
79
78
71
67
67
65
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
White, non Hispanic
 
 
68
62
61
57
 
Black
 
 
82
79
79
78
 
Hispanic
 
 
89
87
86
83
 
Asian American
 
 
88
85
81
76
 
Native Americanb
 
 
84
82
84
79
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Notes: aProjection is based on the Census Bureaus middle series. 
bIncludes Alaskan Natives. 

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, P25-1095. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Division, release PPL-41, "United States Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin 1990 to 1995" and updated tables. Day, Jennifer Cheeseman, Population Projections of the United States by Age, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, P25-1130, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1996.

 

 

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