50.6% of young people nationally are children of color.


in 14 States and D.C.

More than half of young people in 14 states and the District of Columbia are children of color.

The number of children in the United States continues to grow, reaching 74 million in 2021, and accounts for 22% of our nation’s population.1 For the second consecutive year, children of color constituted the majority of all children in the United States at 50.6%. As the country grows more diverse, not only in race and ethnicity but in increasing numbers of immigrants and evolving family structures, it will be critical to consider these changing demographics when meeting the needs of children and youth in the coming years.

Demographic trends at the national and regional levels will affect how agencies and organizations in the United States engage in decision-making around the distribution of resources and delivering programs and services for millions of children, youth, and families. For example:

  • In 2021, 36.3 million children were White (49.4%); 18.9 million were Hispanic (25.7%); 10.1 million were Black (13.8%); 4 million were Asian (5.4%); 596,000 were America Indian/Alaska Native (0.8%); and 158,000 were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (0.2%).
  • Children of color make up 50.6% of all children nationally and over half of all children in D.C. and 14 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas (see Table 1).
  • Half of all of the nation’s children of color live in just five states. California alone is home to 18% of all children of color (6.6 million). The next largest populations are in Texas (5.2 million children of color, or 14% of the U.S. total), Florida (2.5 million or 7% of the U.S. total), New York (2.1 million or 6% of the U.S. total), and Georgia (1.5 million or 4% of the U.S. total).

States with particularly large populations of children of color like California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia must especially factor in cultural and language competency in their education, health, and housing policies to reduce socioeconomic disparities and serve the needs of children of different backgrounds.

America’s children and youth are continuing to diversify in other markers of population characteristics:

  • According to the American Immigration Council, 1 in 4 children in the United States have at least one immigrant parent and roughly 6 million children under the age of 18 are living with an undocumented parent or caregiver.2
  • Children of undocumented immigrant parents comprise 7.25% of all children in the U.S.3
  • In the past decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported close to 300,000 individuals who have at least one U.S.-citizen child.4

Immigration enforcement and deportations are hazardous to children, who experience trauma related to deportations and anxiety around immigration issues and develop increased physical, mental, and behavioral problems.5 To ensure all children have equitable access to a bright future, federal and state-level policies must grow and adapt alongside the increasingly diverse population and center and support all communities—especially Black, Brown, immigrant, and mixed-status families.

Population trends suggest a shift in the composition of the American family, further exacerbating inequities in caregiving in multigenerational homes:

  • The population of Americans 65-years-old or older will nearly double to 95 million by 2060, bringing the group’s share of the total population to 23%.6
  • While the overall population of children increased in the last decade, older adults will outnumber children by 2035.7

Parents who are already experiencing the “sandwich” phenomenon—providing care to both aging relatives and young children—face serious constraints to their financial and mental well-being.8 If trends continue as they are, children will assume even more responsibility in the future to care for rapidly aging generations than their parents before them. This reality argues not just for federal and state-level investments in child care and paid leave, but also a broader set of investments that counteract the conditions that obstruct a family’s economic mobility, especially given that 1 in 4 children—18.8 million children—are under the age of five, 52% of whom are children of color.

The familial structure in the United States is becoming increasingly multigenerational.9 Black and Brown families are more likely than White families to live in households with more than two generations, and with the rise in population of people of color, households containing both children under 18 and adults over 65 accounted for 18% of all homes in 2021 and are becoming more prevalent in part due to diversifying demographics in the United States10.

The increase in diverse populations in the United States necessitates data collection and resource dissemination that reflects the needs of Black and Brown children as well as mixed-status families. Data disaggregation, especially across racial and ethnic groups, can play a role in more accurately understanding families of different backgrounds. The economic status and overall well-being of Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native families vary based on country and region of origin, ethnic background, immigration status, and tribal affiliation. Ensuring these key markers are included in data collection and analysis is crucial to achieving economic and racial justice and making certain equitable solutions are enacted that avoid treating racial and ethnic groups as a monolith.

[1] Table 1 and US Census Bureau, Accessed via Quick Facts, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045222#PST045222

[2] U.S. citizen children impacted by Immigration Enforcement. American Immigration Council. (2021, June 24). Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/us-citizen-children-impacted-immigration-enforcement

[3] Castaneda, H. (2019, November 14). Borders of belonging: Mixed-status families and the impacts of family separation on Population Health. IAPHS. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://iaphs.org/borders-of-belonging-mixed-status-families-and-the-impacts-of-family-separation-on-population-health/#:~:text=Nationwide%2C%20at%20least%2016.7%20million%20people%20are%20part,comprising%20three-quarters%20of%20all%20children%20of%20undocumented%20immigrants.

[4] U.S. citizen children impacted by Immigration Enforcement. American Immigration Council. (2021, June 24). Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/us-citizen-children-impacted-immigration-enforcement

[5] Ibid.

[6]Mather, M., Scommegna, P., & Kilduff, L. (2019, July 15). Fact sheet: Aging in the United States. Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.prb.org/resources/fact-sheet-aging-in-the-united-states/

[7] Vespa, J. (2021, October 9). The U.S. joins other countries with large aging populations. US Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/03/graying-america.html#:~:text=8%2C%202019.,in%202034%20(previously%202035).

[8] Alburez‐Gutierrez, D., Mason, C., & Zagheni, E. (2021). The “Sandwich Generation” Revisited: Global Demographic Drivers of Care Time Demands. In Population and Development Review (Vol. 47, Issue 4, pp. 997–1023). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1111/padr.12436

[9] Mitchell, T. (2022, March 24). the demographics of multigenerational households. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2022/03/24/the-demographics-of-multigenerational-households/#:~:text=The%20share%20of%20the%20U.S.%20population%20living%20in%20multigenerational%20households,the%20U.S.%20since%20the%201970s.

[10] Ibid.