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Highlights From National Study on Children’s Well-Being, 2013

Highlights From National Study on Children’s Well-Being, 2013

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013 provides the Nation with a summary of national indicators of children’s well-being and monitors changes in these indicators. The purposes of the report are to improve reporting of Federal data on children and families, make these data available in an easy-to-use, non technical format, stimulate discussions among policymakers and the public, and spur exchanges between the statistical and policy communities. Highlights from the report are listed below:

Demographic Background

There were 73.7 million children ages 0–17 in the United States in 2012, accounting for almost 24 percent of the population.

Racial and ethnic diversity among America’s children ages 0–17 continues to grow. By 2050, about half of the American population ages 0–17 is projected to be composed of children who are Hispanic, Asian, or of two or more races. Specifically, it is projected that 36 percent of the American population ages 0–17 will be Hispanic (up from 24 percent in 2012); 6 percent will be Asian (up from 5 percent in 2012); and 7 percent will be of two or more races (up from 4 percent in 2012).

Family and Social Environment

In 2012, 64 percent of children ages 0–17 lived with two married parents, down from 65 percent in 2011. Four percent of children lived with their own unmarried, cohabiting parents, 24 percent lived with only their mothers, 4 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived with neither of their parents in 2012.

Among the 2.6 million children not living with either parent in 2012, about 55 percent lived with grandparents, 22 percent lived with other relatives, and 22 percent lived with nonrelatives.

There were 46 births for every 1,000 unmarried women ages 15–44 in 2011, down from 48 percent per 1,000 in 2010; 40.7 percent of all births were to unmarried women, a percentage which has remained quite stable since 2008.

Overall, the percentage of all children living in the United States with at least one foreign-born parent has risen from 15 percent in 1994 to 24 percent in 2012.

In 2011, the adolescent birth rate was 15 per 1,000 adolescents ages 15–17. The rate has fallen for four consecutive years, continuing a decline, briefly interrupted in 2005–2007, that began in 1991–1992.

The number of substantiated child maltreatment reports declined to just under 10 per 1,000 children ages 0–17 in 2011.

Economic Circumstances

In 2011, 22 percent of all children ages 0–17 (16.1 million) lived in poverty, which was not significantly different from the percentage in 2010.

The percentage of children who had at least one parent working year round, full time rose from 71 percent in 2010 to 73 percent in 2011.

Health Care

The percentage of children who had health insurance coverage at some point during the year was essentially unchanged at 91 percent in 2011. The number of children without health insurance at any point during 2011 was 7 million (9 percent of all children).

The percentage of children ages 0–17 who did not have a usual source of health care declined from 5 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2011.

Physical Environment and Safety

In 2011, about 66 percent of children lived in counties with measured air pollutant concentrations above the levels of one or more of the Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard at least once during the year, compared with 67 percent in 2010.

The percentage of children ages 4–11 with any detectable level of blood cotinine, an indicator of recent exposure to secondhand smoke, declined from 53 percent in 2007–2008 to 42 percent in 2009–2010.

The percentage of U.S. households with children that had one or more of three housing problems—physically inadequate housing, crowded housing, or cost burden resulting from housing that costs more than 30 percent of household income—rose from 45 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2011.


In 2012, about 2 percent of 8th-graders, 5 percent of 10th-graders, and 9 percent of 12th-graders reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days, the lowest reported percentages among these students in the history of the survey.

Binge drinking—consuming 5 or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past 2 weeks—among 12th-graders rose from 22 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2012.


The average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scores for 4th- and 8th-graders were 1 point higher in 2011 than in 2009 and higher in 2011 than in all previous assessments.

The percentage of high school graduates who had completed Algebra II rose from 70 to 76 percent between 2005 and 2009.

In 2011, 91 percent of young adults ages 18–24 had completed high school, either with a diploma or with an alternative credential such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

About two-thirds (68 percent) of high school completers enrolled immediately in a 2-year or 4-year college in 2011; this percentage is unchanged from 2010 but down from the percentage in 2009 (70 percent).


The percentage of infants born preterm declined for the 5th straight year in 2011, to 11.7 percent, down from a high of 12.8 percent in 2006.

The infant mortality rate of 6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 was not statistically different from the rate of 6.1 per 1,000 in 2010.

In 2007–2008, the average diet quality score for children ages 2–17 years was 50 out of a possible 100, and was not statistically different from 2003–2006.

In 2009–2010, 18 percent of children ages 6–17 were obese, which was not statistically different from the percentage in 2007–2008.

Special Feature: The Kindergarten Year

The kindergarten year marks a key transition in children’s development. Even at kindergarten entry, children differ in their cognitive, socioemotional, and learning skills.

Three and a half million children entered kindergarten for the first time in the fall of 2010. Eighty-nine percent attended public kindergartens and 11 percent attended private ones. In addition, 55 percent of children had attended center-based care as a primary care arrangement in the year prior to kindergarten.

Females received higher scores than males on kindergarten entry assessments in reading and approaches to learning; however, there was no measurable difference in performance between males and females in mathematics and science.

Multiple differences in children’s performance were observed among students in the various racial and ethnic groups. In most cases, Asian and White, non-Hispanic kindergartners had higher scores than their peers.

Reading, mathematics, science, and approaches to learning scores were lower for kindergartners in households with incomes below the federal poverty level and for those at 100–199 percent of the federal poverty level than for those in households with incomes at or above 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The complete report can be accessed here: America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

About The Author

Scott Carchedi

Scott Carchedi is the founder and co-editor of SSWN. Scott provides technology support and consultative services to school social work associations across the US. Scott is also a practicing school social worker in the western suburbs of Chicago, serving grades 9-12.

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