Jan 2, 2020

The 2010s saw a fall in the number of American kids

Expand chart
Data: William H. Frey analysis of U.S. Census estimates released Dec 30, 2019; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

There are 1.1 million fewer children living in the U.S. today than there were at the start of the decade, according to an analysis of new Census data by the Brookings Institution's William Frey.

The big picture: The adult population grew by 8.8% in the 2010s. in the three previous decades, the child population increased. The past decade marks a pivotal moment as the U.S. ages and, as a result, family life is transformed — especially because Americans are waiting longer to have children and having fewer of them.

Between the lines: The child population also plummeted in the 1970s — when members of Generation X were kids — after the much larger Boomer generation aged into adulthood. But the child population steadily rose from then until the 2010s.

  • Even after a numerical decline in the 1970s, children still made up 28% of the total 1980 population, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. In 2019, kids only made up 22% of the total population, according to the latest Census data.
  • "This isn't the first decade of child population decline. But it ushers in a period when adult growth will continue to dwarf child growth as the population ages and proportionately fewer women are in their child bearing ages," Frey told Axios.

In the past decade, child populations declined in more states than they rose. But a handful of areas, like the West and South, have seen a surge of families and kids.

The drivers: Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut saw their child and teen populations plummet between 2010 and 2019 — an 11% to 12% decrease.

  • Under-18s made up 22% of New Hampshire's population in 2010, but that figure fell to 18% in 2019. That was the biggest drop in kids' share of the population in any state, according to Axios' Census data analysis.
  • California, the most populous state, saw the largest numerical decline of under-18-year-olds of any state. There were 400,000 fewer children and teenagers living in the state this year than there were nine years ago.

The other side: The District of Columbia and North Dakota saw their shares of children and teens spike during the decade — with a more than 20% increase for both areas, largely driven due to their small populations.

  • Each added around 30,000 children since 2010, becoming the only two U.S. areas where under-18 population growth outpaced the rest of the population.
  • North Dakota's booming oil-driven economy and its relatively high birth rates likely played a role.
  • And while the growth rate for kids living in D.C. has steadily outpaced the growth of its adult population, under-18s still make up a smaller share of the district's population than any state.

States with the largest share of their populations under 18:

  1. Utah
  2. Texas (3rd in 2010)
  3. Idaho (2nd in 2010)
  4. Nebraska (10th in 2010)
  5. Alaska (4th in 2010)

States with the smallest share of their populations under 18:

  1. D.C.
  2. Vermont
  3. Maine
  4. New Hampshire (8th in 2010)
  5. Rhode Island (6th in 2010)

Go deeper: Americans are moving less

Go deeper

California sees drop in youth population, Texas sees a jump

Photo: Stephen Simpson/Getty Images

California's youth population dropped by more than 400,000 throughout the past 10 years to 8.9 million young people, attributed, in part, to a drop in immigrant inflows and the state’s lowest birth rate in history, Bloomberg reports, citing the latest Census data.

The big picture: The youth slump is a trend across the U.S., where 30 states noted a dip in the under-18 age group between 2010 and 2019, newly released data shows.

Go deeperArrowJan 11, 2020

Rural America set to lose political power after 2020 census

Ottawa, Illinois, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In most of the 10 states that will likely lose a House seat due to reapportionment beginning in 2022, current demographic trends are poised to shift political power from rural counties to metropolitan counties, according to an analysis by The Hill's Reid Wilson.

Why it matters: Census counts are crucial for determining political representation in the House, and minor changes in population can alter a state's power in Congress for a decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 5, 2020

China's birth rate hits six-decade low

The square of Beijing railway station. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

China's birth rate is the lowest since 1961, with 14.6 million babies born in 2019, signaling struggles for families in a country with an underdeveloped social safety net, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday, per AP.

The big picture: It's the country's third year in a row for falling birth rates, with factors like more financial freedom for women entering the workforce and Chinese couples' changing attitudes toward children with rising living costs, the New York Times reports.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020