The State of America’s Children 2021 – Child Population2021-03-28T18:50:40-05:00

The State of America’s Children® 2021

Child Population


In 2019, there were over 73 million children in the United States—making up 22 percent of our nation’s population.

The U.S.—and especially our youngest generation—is reaching a critical moment in racial and ethnic diversity. We need policies and programs that recognize and celebrate this growing diversity.

  • In 2019, children of color made up 49.8 percent of all children.1
  • More than half of the 19.6 million children under five in America in 2019 were children of color.2
  • The majority of children under 18 were children of color in 14 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas—and the District of Columbia (see Table 1).
  • In 2019, 36.7 million children were white (50.2 percent); 18.7 million were Hispanic (25.6 percent); 10 million were Black (13.7 percent); 3.7 million were Asian (5.0 percent); 615,950 were American Indian/Alaska Native (<1 percent); and 147,057 were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (<1 percent).3
  • Previous estimates suggest the majority of all U.S. children are children of color as of 2020 and the U.S. population will continue to become more racially and ethnically diverse.4

The U.S. is also graying and approaching a tipping point in age, with older adults set to outnumber children.

  • While the proportion of the population that is younger than 18 has been gradually decreasing (from 24.0 percent in 2010 and 22.3 percent in 2019), the proportion of the population that is 65 or older continues to steadily increase (from 13.1 percent in 2010 and 16.5 percent in 2019).5
  • Given current trends, it is expected that the share of seniors will continue to grow and there will be more seniors than children by 2040.6
  • We must prepare our nation to support its aging population, but also plan ahead to ensure our increasingly diverse child population is set from birth on a path to a productive and successful future with the foundation necessary to support future generations.

Our current federal spending reflects our nation’s skewed priorities: Our children are our future but are not getting the investments they need to thrive.

  • Despite children making up such a large portion of our population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in FY2020.7
  • Although Congress raised statutory caps on discretionary spending in FY2018-FY2020, children didn’t receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline between FY2016 and FY2020.8