U.S. Teen Demographics
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there were 43,012,450 youth age 10-19 in the United States, 13% of the total U.S. population, in 2021 .
According to Census Bureau estimates, about 49% of the U.S. youth population are counted as female and 51% male . A 2017 estimate of the transgender population, based on 12 national surveys, concluded that for about one in every 250 adults, their gender identity does not match the sex assigned them at birth . More recently, a UCLA Williams Institute study of CDC data found that 1.3 million U.S. adults (0.5% of the population age 18 and older) and 1.4 million youth age 13-17 (0.6% of this population) identify as transgender .
Ethnicity, Race, National Origin
Racial/ethnic diversity is greater in the child population than in the adult U.S. population . When the Latinx population is treated as a single category, the population of children in 2018 was 50% white, 25% Latinx, 14% Black, 5% Asian, 4% multi-racial, 1% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.5% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander . Note, however, that Latinx youth are diverse in national/family origin, and each racial group includes Latinx people within it .
By 2030, the percentage of children (under age 18) who are Latinx is expected to near 27%, while the percentage of white non-Hispanic (NH) children will drop to 47%; together, children who belong to ethnic/racial "minority" groups will comprise the majority of the youth population . For a more detailed breakdown, visit the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 National Population Projections Tables and download Table 6.
In New York State, half of adolescents age 12-17 are white NH, 24% are Latinx, 15% are black NH, 8% are Asian NH, 3% are multiracial NH, less than 0.5% are American Indian/Alaskan Native NH, and less than 0.5% are Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander NH (2020 numbers) .
Twenty-five percent of all children (age 0-17) are first- or second-generation immigrants (2020 numbers, here defined as living in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent) . Among children age 5-17 in 2019, 23% of children did not speak English at home; however, only 4% of children had difficulty speaking English .
Geographic and Neighborhood Settings
In 2018, about 86% of children lived in metropolitan areas (areas with an urban population of at least 50,000) while 8% lived in micropolitan (with an urban population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000) and just over 5% lived in rural areas [9, 10].
The 2019-2020 National Survey of Children's Health found that, according to their parents, 55% of children live in supportive neighborhoods: survey recipients agreed that people in the neighborhood help each other out, neighbors watch out for each other's children, and/or they know where to go for help . In New York State, the percentage drops to 50% . Parents of white children are more likely than parents of non-white children to rate their neighborhoods as supportive (64% nationwide, 67% New York state) .
The same survey found that the vast majority of parents consider their neighborhoods at least somewhat safe for their children. However, 5% nationwide considered their neighborhoods unsafe; 9% in New York State . Nationally, 8% of parents of Latinx children and 10% of parents of Black children consider their neighborhoods unsafe.
Between 2019 and 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, median household incomes decreased — the first significant decline since 2011 . Median family income in U.S. households with children was $77,445 in 2020. Median income falls in households with children where only one spouse is present: for those headed by women, median income was $30,681; for those headed by men, median income was $47,375 . In New York State, among families with children, median income was $83,272; for women without a spouse present, median income was $32,193; for men without a spouse present, median income was $49,654 .
Officially, poverty increased for children and adolescents from 14% in 2019 to 16% in 2020 . However, when resources beyond cash income — such as federal stimulus checks, refundable tax credits, and food and housing assistance — are factored in, children's poverty decreased to 10% in 2020 .
In 2019, 24% of children (under age 18) lived in low-income families where at least one parent worked full time or more . That same year, 26% of children lived with parent(s) who did not have steady, full-time employment . In 2019, 15% of children lived in families that were at times unable to provide enough food .
Estimates of homelessness among adolescents vary a great deal. In the 2020 "point-in-time" tally of the homeless conducted by communities across the United States, about 34,000 youth (unaccompanied children and young adults under age 25) were found to be homeless on the night of the count . In addition, 7,355 parenting youth (parents under age 25 with their child present) were counted .
Youth who are LGBTQ — especially those who are black — experience homelessness at particularly high rates . Researchers estimate that LGBTQ youth are 2 to13 times more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ counterparts . LGBTQ youth who are unsheltered are also at greater risk of physical and sexual assault than are non-LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness .
Pregnant and parenting youth are also at high risk for homelessness. One nationally representative survey revealed that young adults who experienced homelessness in the prior year were more likely to have children than were young adults who had stable housing. For example, among women age 18-25, 43% of women who had not had stable housing had at least one child while only 22% of their counterparts with stable housing were mothers .
A high percentage of young people experiencing homelessness have come through the foster care system. While some youth become homeless once they age out of the system, others experience homelessness after they have been either adopted or reunited with their families .
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2022, April 5). National Population by Characteristics: 2020-2021. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Single Year of Age and Sex for the United States: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.
- Meerwijk, E. L., & Sevelius, J. M. (2017). Transgender population size in the United States: A meta-regression of population-based probability samples. American Journal of Public Health, 107(2), e1-e8.
- Herman, J. L., Flores, A. R., & O'Neill, K. K. (2022, June). How Many Adults and Youth Identify as Transgender in the United States?
- Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2020, September 4). What the data say about race, ethnicity, and American youth.
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2020, June). 2019 Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin. (See National and State Detailed Tables). April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2018, September 6). 2017 national population projections tables, Table 6 [Summary table].
- Annie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.). Kids Count Data Center: New York Indicators [select "Child population by race and age group"].
- Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2021). America's children in brief: Key national indicators of well-being, 2021.
- Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2020). America's children in brief: Key national indicators of well-being, 2020: Demographic background.
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2020). Metropolitan and micropolitan: About.
- Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. (n.d.). 2019-2020 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) data query. Indicator 7.1: Does this child live in a supportive neighborhood?
- Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. (n.d.). 2019-2020 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) data query. Indicator 7.2: Does this child live in a safe neighborhood?
- Shrider, E. A., Kollar, M., Chen, F., & Semega, J. (2021, September 14). Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020. United States Census Bureau.
- United States Census. (n.d.). Median income in the past 12 months (in 2020 inflation-adjusted dollars) [Table ID S1903, customized to show United States and New York State].
- Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2021, September 20). New Child Poverty Data Illustrate the Powerful Impact of America's Safety Net Programs.
- Annie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.). Kids Count Data Center: Data by topic.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2021, January). The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, Part 1.
- Homelessness Policy Research Institute. (2019, August). LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
- Dworsky, A., Morton, M. H., Samuels, G. M. (2018). Missed opportunities: Pregnant and parenting youth experiencing homelessness in America. Chapin Hall.
- Dworsky, A., Gitlow, E., Horwitz, B., & Samuels, G. M. (2019). Missed opportunities: Pathways from foster care to youth homelessness in America. Chapin Hall.
Page last updated June 22, 2022