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Dependency (Ages <18 or >64)
Dependency (Ages <18 or >64) in United States
United States

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United States Value:


Percentage of the population ages 0-17 or 65 and older

Dependency (Ages <18 or >64) in depth:

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Dependency (Ages <18 or >64) by State

Percentage of the population ages 0-17 or 65 and older

Dependency (Ages <18 or >64) Trends

Percentage of the population ages 0-17 or 65 and older

Trend: Dependency (Ages <18 or >64) in United States, 2023 Annual Report

Percentage of the population ages 0-17 or 65 and older

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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About Dependency (Ages <18 or >64)

US Value: 39.0%

Top State(s): Colorado: 36.4%

Bottom State(s): South Dakota: 42.3%

Definition: Percentage of the population ages 0-17 or 65 and older

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2022

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

While having dependents (here defined as children under the age of 18 or adults over the age of 64) is frequently a positive experience, there are also hardships associated with caring for them. Parents often report that children bring them happiness or meaning; however, they can also bring both emotional and financial stress. In 2015, raising a child from birth to the age of 17 cost a family an average of $233,610; since then, that estimate has risen sharply to $310,605. This total does not include any income lost due to reducing hours or leaving the workforce. Similarly, taking care of an aging parent can have a high emotional and financial toll, with an average out-of-pocket cost of approximately $7,200 annually. Providing unpaid care for a parent is becoming more common — today there are an estimated 53 million caregivers in the United States, about half of whom care for a parent or a parent-in-law. 

Populations that tend to have more dependents include:

  • Female-headed households with no spouse present, which make up a larger proportion of households with children under age 18, compared with male-headed households with no spouse present. Additionally, women make up more than 60% of all caregivers.
  • Women with low educational attainment. Women with less than a high school education have a higher average number of children over their lifetime than college graduates. 
  • Hispanic adults, who have the highest prevalence of caregiving, compared with non-Hispanic white adults.

Government programs such as food assistance, housing subsidies and working-family tax credits can help low-income parents provide necessities for their children. Keeping low-income families above the poverty line has been shown to help children succeed later in life. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can help cover medical expenses for children whose parents cannot afford health insurance for their children. 

Financial assistance programs also exist for elders; Medicare and Medicaid are the most well-known, but there are many others. Some of these include the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Housing Repair Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Programs, the Housing Choice Vouchers Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program. Local services can be found by using the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.

AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. “Caregiving in the United States 2020.” Washington, D.C.: AARP, May 14, 2020.

AARP Public Policy Institute, and National Alliance on Caregiving. “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.” Washington, D.C.: AARP, June 2015.

Hansen, Thomas. “Parenthood and Happiness: A Review of Folk Theories Versus Empirical Evidence.” Social Indicators Research 108, no. 1 (August 1, 2012): 29–64.

Lino, Mark, Kevin Kuczynski, Nestor Rodriguez, and TusaRebecca Schap. “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015.” Miscellaneous Report No. 1528-2015. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, January 2017.

Sherman, Arloc, and Tazra Mitchell. “Economic Security Programs Help Low-Income Children Succeed over Long Term, Many Studies Find.” Washington, D.C.: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 17, 2017.

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