THE YEAR CHILDREN OF COLOR WERE
PROJECTED TO MAKE UP THE MAJORITY
OF CHILDREN IN AMERICA
Los Angeles United School District Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian knows firsthand the importance of the United States Census to ensure an accurate population count to help determine how resources are allocated to schools and communities. “[An] undercount would be detrimental to the resources we receive,” she explained.1 That is why she was a vocal opponent of the Trump Administration’s extensive efforts to include a question about respondents’ citizenship status. If allowed, this addition would have reduced participation among households with immigrants—even immigrants who are U.S. citizens—and led to an undercount primarily in urban centers where immigrant families tend to be concentrated. Such an undercount would have had devastating effects on children and families, robbing states with large immigrant populations of seats in the House of Representatives, votes in the Electoral College and billions of dollars in funding for life-saving programs like Medicaid and SNAP. Ekchian knew the potential devastation the question could cause in her school district where a majority of students live in poverty and many are homeless, in foster care, or from immigrant families. Every child counts and must be counted in the Census. If we are to identify and meet the needs of America’s children, we must accurately measure and understand our child population.
In 2018, there were 73.4 million children in the United States and these children were more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before.
- Children of color made up 49.7 percent of all children in 2018.2
- 37 million children were white (50.3 percent); 18.7 million were Hispanic (25.5 percent); 10.1 million were Black (13.7 percent); 3.7 million were Asian (5.1 percent); 3.2 million were two or more races (4.3 percent); 616,236 were American Indian/Alaska Native (<1 percent); and 147,258 were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (<1 percent).3
- 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).
- More than half of the 19.8 million children under 5 were children of color, making them “majority minority” (see Table 1).
- It is projected that the majority of all U.S. children will be children of color this year and the U.S. population will continue to become more racially and ethnically diverse in the coming years.4
In 2018, children made up 22 percent of our nation’s population but this proportion has been decreasing over the years.
- While the proportion of the population that is under 18 continues to decrease (from 24.0 percent in 2010 to 22.4 percent in 2018), the proportion of the population that is 65 and older continues to steadily increase (from 13 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2018).5
- Given current trends, there will be more seniors (22 percent) than children (21 percent) by 2040.6
To prepare our nation to support its aging population, we must plan ahead to ensure our increasingly diverse child population has a strong foundation and successful future to assist future generations. Poverty and inequality pose significant challenges and contribute to opportunity gaps that must be overcome to level the playing field for all children and help them achieve success.