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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 1999

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 1999
79 pages
Prepared by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, this report describes the changing population and family context in which children are living and identifies 23 indicators of well-being in the areas of economic security, health, behavior and the social environment, and education.
America's child population continues to grow in racial and ethnic diversity. The percentage of children living with two parents declined from 77 percent in 1980 to 68 percent in 1996 and has remained stable since then. The percentage of births to unmarried mothers has stabilized since 1994 at about 32 percent, after rising sharply from 18 percent in 1980. In 1997, the poverty rate of children was 19 percent, about the same as it has been since 1980. The proportion of children living in families with high incomes increased from 17 percent in 1980 to 25 percent in 1997, while the proportion of children living in extreme poverty grew slightly from 7 to 8 percent over the same period. In 1996, most children and adolescents had a diet that was poor or needed improvement. Teenagers were less likely than younger children to have a usual source of medical care, the percentage of infants born with low birthweight rose, and death rates among adolescents declined. The percentage of 10th and 12th grade students who reported smoking daily dropped in 1998, after generally increasing since 1992. Young people between 12 and 17 years of age were victims of serious violent crime at the rate of 27 crimes per 1,000 in 1997, down from 44 per 1,000 in 1993. Juveniles were perpetrators of serious violent crime at the rate of 31 crimes per 1,000 in 1997, down from 52 per 1,000 in 1993. More children were enrolled in preschool in 1997 than in 1996. In 1998, about 8 percent of young people between 16 and 19 years of age were not enrolled in school or working. About 12 percent of children between 5 and 17 years of age had difficulty performing one or more daily activities. Data sources and analysis methods used to compile the statistics are described. Tables and figures