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Characteristics of American Youth: 1974

Report Number P23-51


This report presents a statistical portrait of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of young persons—those 14 to 24 years old in 1974—born from approximately 1950 through 1960. These were the years of the greatest birth boom in United States history. Because of their growing numbers, as these persons reach employment age and begin to form families to their own, interest in the youth of America has increased in recent years.

The current report updates "Characteristics of American Youth: 1972," Current Population Reports, Series P-23, No. 44, and is the fifth in a series on the subject. Many of the figures on youth have been published previously, but they are being brought together here for convenient use. This report describes the most recent trends in the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of young persons, particularly those which have occurred between the late 1960's and early 1970's. Data are included on numbers and racial composition, metropolitan-nonmetropolitan residence, migration, education, marital status, family composition, fertility, labor force status, occupation, income, voting, and crime. Special emphasis is placed on the school enrollment of American youth.

Some of the highlights on youth featured include the following:

  1. On July 1, 1974, American youth numbered 43.8 million, approximately 21 percent of the total population of the United States.
  2. Over two thirds of our Nation's youth lived in standard metropolitan statistical areas (SMSA's) in 1974, including about 30 percent who were residents of a central city.
  3. One-half of the population 20 and 21 years old and about 70 percent of the population 22 to 24 years old moved between March 1970 and March 1974.
  4. About 93 percent of persons of high school age ( 14 to 17 years old) and 43 percent of 18- and 19-year olds were enrolled in school in October 1973.
  5. College enrollment among women and Negroes has increased dramatically over the past decade.
  6. Young women were more likely to be single in 1974 than they were in 1960.
  7. Almost all of America's youth, approximately 90 percent, lived in families in 1974.
  8. The total number of births expected by wives 18 to 24 years old declined from 2.4 to 2.2 between 1971 and 1974.
  9. The proportion of women 16 to 24 years old who were in the labor force increased from 48 percent in 1967 to 57 percent in 1974, whereas the proportion not working because they were keeping house declined from 26 percent to 20 percent.
  10. The median income in 1973 of families with a head under 25 years old and a year-round full-time civilian worker was $10,155.
  11. Youth 18 to 24 years old did not vote to as great an extent as did Americans 25 years old and over.
  12. In the first half of 1973 the victimization rate for selected crimes against persons was higher for persons 16 to 24 years old than for the total population 12 years old and over.

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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