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Youth Indicators, 2005: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth


Youth Indicators was designed to meet the needs of individuals who are interested in viewing trends in the well-being of youth in various social contexts that may relate to youth education and learning. Youth Indicators contains statistics that address important aspects of the lives of youth, including family, schooling, work, community, and health. This report focuses on American youth and young adults 14 to 24 years old. The following highlights from the report provide a broad view of today's youth:

  • The number of persons 14 to 24 years old is expected to increase between 2000 and 2020, reflecting growth in the number of minority youth. The population of Hispanics is expected to increase much more rapidly than the population of Blacks and Whites (indicator 2).
  • The proportion of young adults, ages 18 to 24, with families of their own declined from 42 percent in 1960 to 19 percent in 2003 (indicator 3).
  • The median age at first marriage has increased for both sexes; from 23 in 1970 to 27 years old in 2003 for males and from 21 in 1970 to 25 years old in 2003 for females (indicator 4).
  • Although a performance gap in reading proficiency between 13- and 17-year-old White students and their Black and Hispanic peers was still present in 2004, this gap is smaller than it was in 1975 (indicator 13).
  • Average mathematics proficiency for both 13- and 17-year-olds was higher in 2004 than in 1973 for all racial/ethnic groups (indicator 15).
  • The proportion of all 16- to 24-year-olds who were dropouts declined between 1998 (12 percent) and 2003 (10 percent) (indicator 19).
  • Young adults have attained higher levels of education over the past decades: 16 percent of 25-to 29-year-olds had completed college in 1970 compared to 29 percent in 2004 (indicator 20).
  • College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-yearolds have increased from 26 percent in 1980 to 38 percent in 2003; the enrollment rate for females has increased more rapidly than that for males (indicator 22).
  • The median income for male full-time workers 20 to 24 years old decreased between 1975 and 2002 (after adjustment for inflation). However, the income of females 20 to 24 years old also dropped, but not as much, and thus the gap between young males' and females' incomes narrowed (indicator 32).
  • The proportion of high school seniors participating in community affairs or volunteer work grew between 1980 and 2001 (indicator 36).
  • The percentage of White youth who reported using a computer at home was significantly higher than for Black and Hispanic youth in 2003 (indicator 37).
  • The violent crime victimization rate for young people ages 12 to 24 was lower in 2002 than in 1995 (indicator 43).
  • In 2003, 12 percent of high school students were overweight, while 15 percent were at risk for becoming overweight (indicator 46).
  • The percentage of White seniors who reported current use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs in 2004 was higher than the percentages of Black and Hispanic seniors (indicator 48).