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A quarter of all children in the U.S. are Latino, U.S. census study finds

Over one decade, the number of Latino children under 18 rose 2.6% to 18.8 million in 2020.
Elementary school students in Phoenix, Ariz.
 A quarter, 25.7% (18.8 million), of all U.S. children under 18 were Latino in 2020, up from 23.1% (17.1 million) in 2010.Olivier Touron / AFP via Getty Images file

A recent data analysis of the 2020 census shows the number of Latino children in the U.S. grew by more than 1 million in a 10-year period. 

The analysis, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, offers additional insight into the U.S. population and the ways it has changed since the previous census in 2010. Researchers found that 25.7% (18.8 million) of all U.S. children under 18 were of Latino origin in 2020, up from 23.1% (17.1 million) in 2010.

Florida had the largest gain in the number of underage Latinos, adding 259,931 children over the period examined. New Jersey and Maryland followed from a distance, with 105,575 and 89,159 additions respectively.

Maryland tied Connecticut with the largest increase in total percentage points at 6.5%, while Rhode Island saw the third-largest jump at 6.2%.

Despite seeing gains in the total number of Latino children, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island’s overall population of children declined.

The Latino population also saw an increase in their overall median age to 30 years old, up 2.7 years from 2010. Non-Hispanics’ median age also grew, but less: they reached a median of 41.1 years of age in 2020, up 1.5 years from 2010.

In Puerto Rico, the Latino median age saw a 13-year increase between 2000 and 2020, from 32.1 to 45.1. During the same period, the median age of Latinos in the rest of the country increased by just 4.2 years, from 25.8 to 30.

The shifts in the Latino population’s median age over the decade studied also varied by race. 

The median age of all respondents who chose “Two or More Races” in the 2020 census was the youngest, at 29.5. Latino respondents who chose the “Two or More Races” option aged the most over the decade, having the oldest median age across all Latinos by race groups at 31.3, a 10.8-year increase from 2010. 

The youngest segment among Latino groups was that of people who identified as “Black Alone.” They saw the largest median age decrease, to 21.9: down 2.1 years from 2010.

“Comparisons between race data in the 2020 and 2010 censuses should be made with caution, taking into account improvements to the Hispanic origin and race questions in the way responses were coded in the 2020 Census,” the report said.

The 2020 census questions regarding Hispanic or Latino origin and race were revised based on feedback and research. They included an updated “write-in” option as well as increases to processing and coding capabilities.

The new two-part question asks whether a person’s ethnicity is Hispanic or Latino and then asks what their race is (the option of Hispanic or Latino is not provided). The Biden administration is considering combining the questions for the next U.S. census in 2030, allowing people to choose Hispanic or Latino as a race.

Evidence suggests the current two-part question confuses many people for whom race and ethnicity are indistinguishable. The Census Bureau found that 42% of Hispanics marked “Some Other Race” in the 2020 census. One-third selected two or more racial groups and 20% chose white as their race, the Pew Research Center reported in 2021. 

Latinos in all U.S. regions saw decreases in self-reporting as “White Alone,” but Latinos in the South experienced the sharpest decline: from 62.9% in 2010 to 23.2% in 2020. Latinos describing themselves as being of “Two or More Races” were the biggest group, at 37.9%, among the Hispanic population surveyed in the South.

Latinos in the Northeast reported the largest increase when selecting the “Some Other Race” category at 48.2%, up from 38.3% in 2010. And those reporting as “Black or African American alone” or “Black Alone” decreased the most in the Northeast, from 7.2% to 4.8%.