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13 Children 13.1 CHILDRE N This section on children begins with the most important variable: where are America's children? Children ar e defined a s those under eighteen year s of age . A s show n in the chart below, nationally , 25.9 percent of the America n populatio n fall s i n this category, far outnumberin g the population o f seniors . Th e population o f childre n i s further subdivide d int o those under fiv e years old , 7. 6 percent , an d thos e betwee n 5 an d 18 , 18. 3 percent. The variation i n the percentage of children amon g the states is significant; 3 6 percent of Utah's population are children, but in Massachusetts only 23 percent. The east-west component of th e map is the dominan t trend . Al l o f th e East Coas t states , with th e exception o f Sout h Carolina and Georgia, fall in the lowest category, less than 25.3 percent. Vermont, West Virginia and Tennessee join the coastal states with the fewest children . Th e western half o f the nation has the largest proportion o f children, more than 26.8 percent. In the Great Plains an d West , only a few states are not in the highest category, and those few are in the intermediate category: Hawaii, Washington , Oregon , Nevada, Colorado an d Oklahoma. Mississippi i s the only stat e in th e high categor y tha t lie s eas t of the Mississippi River . The intermediate category , state s with 25.3 percent to 26.8 percent, occupy an intermediate position on the map as well. These states ar e primaril y locate d i n th e Midwes t an d centra l interio r an d i n a band i n th e Dee p South fro m Alabam a t o Sout h Carolina . A number of factors influenc e th e patterns shown on this map. The birth rate is the most important, an d compariso n wit h Ma p 2. 6 show s a correspondence. (Fo r example , ther e ar e no state s with a high birth rate that have a low proportion o f children.) Migration i s another factor. I n th e genera l tren d o f eas t t o wes t migration , younge r peopl e i n thei r child-bearin g years ar e th e primar y migrants . Th e Eas t Coast , therefore , ha s los t man y peopl e i n th e 1 8 to 44 year age group, leaving behind a population that not only does not have a lot of children, but als o ha s a relatively hig h percentag e o f olde r peopl e an d seniors . Th e bes t exampl e of the boom in population due to in-migration is the still frontier stat e of Alaska, second highest with 31.6 percent of its population in the child age range. Cultural factors play a role as well. Utah's Mormons believe in having large families and Utah has the largest proportion of children of al l the states. Many state s with recent immigration hav e high birth rates an d consequently a large proportion of children. For example, many of the states with significant Hispanic population are in the high category. Income is another important variable. "The rich get rich and the poor have children," run the ancien t lyrics. Generally th e wealthier state s of the Northeast, whic h also hav e highe r level s o f educationa l attainment , sho w thi s influence . AGE DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION, 1990 186 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census 13.1 CHILDRE N PERCENT O F POPULATIO N UNDE R AG E 18 , 199 2 187 13.2 TH E CHANGIN G CHIL D POPULATIO N The previous ma p showed the distribution o f children (thos e under 18 ) as of 1990 . How has the child populatio n change d sinc e the Censu s o f 1980 ? Thi s ma p show s man y o f th e eastwest elements we saw on the previous map but with some differences. First, the rate of change of th e child population i s much mor e dramatic than simpl y th e...


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