Report: Adolescent Birthrate Has Dropped

WASHINGTON – The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has released America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, which is one in a series of annual reports on the condition of children in America.

The report concluded that the adolescent birthrate for females, ages 15-17, fell by more than two-fifths since 1991. In 2005, 18 percent of all children under the age of 18 lived in poverty. Additionally, compared to 1991 when 54 percent of high school students reported ever having had sexual intercourse, in 2005 the rate was 47 percent.

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, describes the changing population of children, the demographic context and 38 indicators depicting the well-being of children in the areas of family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education and health.

Highlights from each section of the report are:


  • In 2006, there were 73.7 million children ages 0-17 in the United States, or 25 percent of the population, down from a peak of 36 percent at the end of the “baby boom” (1964). Children are projected to compose 24 percent of the population in 2020.
  • Racial and ethnic diversity continues to increase over time. In 2006, 58 percent of U.S. children were White, non-Hispanic; 20 percent were Hispanic; 15 percent were Black; 4 percent were Asian; and 4 percent were all other races. The percentage of children who are Hispanic has increased faster than that of any other racial or ethnic group, growing from 9 percent of the child population in 1980 to 20 percent in 2006.


  • In 2006, 67 percent of children ages 0-17 lived with two married parents, down from 77 percent in 1980.

  • The nonmarital birth rate in 2005 increased to 48 per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15-44 years, up from 46 in 2004. The recent increases in nonmarital birth rates have been especially notable among women age 25 and older. Births to unmarried women constituted 37 percent of all U.S. births, the highest level ever reported.

  • In 2005, 20 percent of school-age children spoke a language other than English at home, and 5 percent of school-age children had difficulty speaking English.

  • The adolescent birth rate for females ages 15-17 continued to decline in 2005. The rate fell by more than two-fifths since 1991, reaching 21 births per 1,000 females ages 15-17 in 2005. The 2004-2005 decline was particularly steep among Black, non-Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander adolescents. The birth rate for Black, non-Hispanic adolescents dropped three-fifths during 1991-2005.

  • In 2005, there were 12 substantiated reports of child maltreatment per 1,000 children.


  • In 2005, 18 percent of all children ages 0-17 lived in poverty; among children living in families, the poverty rate was 17 percent.

  • The percentage of children in families living below the federal poverty threshold has fluctuated since the early 1980s: It reached a high of 22 percent in 1993 and decreased to a low of 16 percent in 2000.

  • The percentage of children who had at least one parent working year round, full time rose from 77.6 percent in 2004 to 78.3 percent in 2005.


  • In 2005, 89 percent of children had health insurance coverage at some point during the year, down from 90 percent in 2004.

  • In 2005, 48 percent of children ages 2-4 had a dental visit in the past year, compared with 84 percent of children ages 5-11 and 82 percent of children ages 12-17. In 2003-2004, 23 percent of children ages 2-5 and 14 percent of children ages 6-17 had untreated dental caries (cavities) upon dental examination.


  • In 2005, 60 percent of children lived in counties in which concentrations of one or more air pollutants rose above allowable levels.

  • The percentage of children served by community drinking water systems that did not meet all applicable health based standards declined from 20 percent in 1993 to about 8 percent in 1998. From 1998 to 2005 the percentage has fluctuated between 5 and 10 percent.

  • In 2001-2004, about 1 percent of children ages 1-5 had elevated blood lead levels [greater than or equal to 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL)]. The median blood lead concentration for children ages 1-5 dropped from 14 µg/dL in 1976-1980 to about 2 µg/dL in 2003-2004.

  • In 2005, 40 percent of households with children had one or more housing problems, up from 37 percent in 2003. The most common type of housing problem is cost burden, followed by physically inadequate housing and crowded housing.

  • In 2004, the injury death rate for children ages 1-4 was 13 deaths per 100,000 children.

  • The leading causes of injury-related emergency department visits among adolescents ages 15-19 in 2003-2004 were being struck by or against an object (33 visits per 1,000 children), motor vehicle traffic crashes (25 visits per 1,000 children), and falls (20 visits per 1,000 children). Together, these causes of injury accounted for half of all injury-related emergency department visits for this age group.


  • The percentages of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students reporting illicit drug use in the past 30 days remained stable from 2005 to 2006. However, past month use among all three grades significantly declined since 1997.

  • In 2005, 47 percent of high school students reported ever having had sexual intercourse. This was statistically the same rate as in 2003 and a decline from 54 percent in 1991.


  • The percentage of children ages 3-5 not yet in kindergarten who were read to daily by a family member was higher in 2005 than in 1993 (60 versus 53 percent). A greater percentage of White, non-Hispanic and Asian children were read to daily in 2005 than were Black, non-Hispanic, or Hispanic children (68 and 66 percent, compared with 50 and 45 percent, respectively).

  • Between 1982 and 2004, the percentage of high school graduates who had completed an advanced mathematics course almost doubled, increasing from 26 to 50 percent. Likewise, the percentage of graduates who had completed a physics, chemistry, or advanced biology course almost doubled, increasing from 35 to 68 percent.

  • In 2005, 69 percent of high school completers enrolled immediately in a 2- or 4-year college. This rate was not statistically different than the historic high of 67 percent reached in 2004.


  • The percentage of infants with low birthweight was 8.2 percent in 2005, up from 7.9 percent in 2003 and 8.1 percent in 2004 and has increased slowly but steadily since 1984 (6.7 percent).

  • In 2005, 5 percent of children ages 4-17 were reported by a parent to have serious (definite or severe) emotional or behavioral difficulties. Among the parents of these children, 81 percent reported contacting a health care provider or school staff about their child’s difficulties, 40 percent reported their child was prescribed medication for their difficulties, and 47 percent reported their child had received treatment other than medication.

  • The proportion of children ages 6-17 who were overweight increased from 6 percent in 1976-1980 to 11 percent in 1988-1994 and continued to rise to 18 percent in 2003-2004.

  • In 2005, about 9 percent of children ages 0-17 were reported to currently have asthma, and about 5 percent of children had one or more asthma attacks in the previous year. The prevalence of asthma in children is particularly high among Black, non-Hispanic and Puerto Rican children (13 and 20 percent, respectively).

The report can be found online at

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