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1. Racial and Ethnic Population of Children in the U.S.

The United States is composed of various racial and ethnic groups (Table 2). Although race is not a biological concept, historical, social and structural discrimination in the U.S. has disadvantaged some groups (African-Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Native Americans) while giving advantage to whites. This structural discrimination has created institutionalized systems that harm families of color in gaining access to public and private resources.

Table 2. Percent of children under age 18 in households by race/ethnicity, U.S., 2013

All Children

White Non- Hispanic
%

Hispanic or Latino origin
%

Black or African American
%

American Indian & Alaska Native
%

Asian
%

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
%

Under 6 years
%

6 to 11 years
%

12 to 17 years
%

73,461,927

52.3

24.2

14.3

1.0

4.6

0.2

32.6

33.5

33.8

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013
Similar data on the race/ethnicity of children under 18 is available for any state. 

 

What Can the Data Tell Us?

U.S. Census data on child trends helps project potential needs for education, child care, health care and other services for all children. Being able to view data through a racial/ethnic equity lens in combination with other indicators, such as poverty, medical coverage, access to a medical home and immunization rates, can highlight inequity in practices, resources and policies. National, state and local policy makers and advocates can use the data to be intentional in guiding and creating resources and policies that are culturally relevant and better support specific populations. Current U.S. Census data (Table 3) show white, non-Hispanic children represent half (50%) of all the nation’s children, while children of color make up the other half, with Hispanic/Latino children leading this population growth. The country’s growing diversity has broad implications—including the need to develop school systems and workforce opportunities that support individuals of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

Table 3. Population by age group and race/ethnicity, U.S., 2013

Race/Ethnicity

0-4 yrs.

5– 17 yrs.

18–64 yrs.

65 yrs +

Total

White Non-Hispanic

9,884,145
50.00%

28,512,278
52.98%

123,780,531
62.55%

35,215,457
78.85%

197,392,411
62.44%

White Hispanic

3,273,120
16.56%

8,287,578
15.40%

21,562,542
10.90%

2,454,250
5.49%

35,577,490
11.25%

African-American

2,789,535
14.11%

7,672,062
14.26%

25,582,523
12.93%

3,875,251
8.68%

39,919,371
12.63%

American Indian/Alaskan Native

176,476
0.89%

524,130
0.97%

1,601,223
0.81%

219,302
0.49%

2,521,131
0.80%

Asian

900,214
4.55%

2,471,969
4.59%

10,923,337
5.52%

1,716,600
3.84%

16,012,120
5.07%

Hawaiian Pacific/Islander

38,328
0.19%

108,135
0.20%

341,791
0.17%

37,496
0.08%

525,750
0.17%

Some Other Race

1,300,656
6.58%

3,287,458
6.11%

9,524,575
4.81%

698,336
1.56%

14,811,025
4.69%

Two or More Races

1,407,605
7.12%

2,952,923
5.49%

4,561,715
2.31%

447,298
1.00%

9,369,541
2.96%

Total of Non White/Non-Hispanic

9,885,934
50.00%

25,304,255
47.02%

74,097,706
37.45%

9,448,533
21.15%

118,736,428
37.56%

Total Population

19,770,079

53,816,533

197,878,237

44,663,990

316,128,839

Hispanic/Latino

5,091,351
25.75%

12,630,225
23.47%

32,966,650
16.66%

3,298,186
7.38%

53,986,412
17.08%

Source:  U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013
Data can also be collected from the U.S. Census on a state level; it requires calculating each race/ethnicity and age separately.

Table 4 below gives state-by-state information on the race/ethnicity breakdown of the total population. In California and Texas (and the District of Columbia), there is no “majority” population. Hispanic/Latinos are almost the largest ethnic population in California and Texas. This diversity is the greatest when it comes to the young child population.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau the number of children under age 5 rose from 49.0 percent in 2010 to 49.7 percent in 2011. In 2012 for the first time in U.S. history non-Hispanic whites account for the minority of births in this country.  All states, even those that don’t see themselves as being very diverse, need to pay attention to the changing demographics. As demographics continue to change and become more diverse, states need to make sure they are providing equitable services and access to resources to all families.  

Table 4. Percentage of total population by race/ethnicity, U.S. and states, 2013