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L.A. County Community Profile

June 11, 2012
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The number of children younger than 5 in Los Angeles County decreased by 12.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics contained in a recently released First 5 LA research report.

In 2000, there were about 737,630 children younger than 5 in the county - about 7.7 percent of the population. Ten years later, there were nearly 645,800 children younger than 5, or about 6.6 percent of the county's population. Meanwhile, according to the recent Census data, the number of seniors living in the county increased by 15 percent over the decade.

This is worth noting now because of the impact this dramatic demographic shift will have on the county in the coming decades, said First 5 LA Research Analyst Jessica Monge. "The county's population share of seniors will continue to increase as the baby boomer generation begins to retire. Today's young children will become the working population over the next two decades," Monge said. "It is important that we invest in ensuring that young children are receiving the support they need early in life to become the successful, working adults of the future that the increasingly large senior population will depend on as a tax base, for buying their homes and providing them services."

The Community Profile for Los Angeles County 2010 was produced as part of First 5 LA's Research & Evaluation Department's revised Accountability and Learning Framework. First 5 LA researchers worked with Dr. Dowell Myers, director of the Population Dynamics Research Group and a professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, on the report. The purpose of the report is to not only examine recent and likely future demographic trends, but to provide data to be used for planning and context for First 5 LA programs.

Other report highlights include the finding that the number of bilingual households in L.A. County increased by 14.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, comprising 45.3 percent of all households in the county. At the same time, the number of limited English homes slightly decreased. English proficiency by at least one member of the household could mean the difference between isolation and integration - especially when it means communicating with doctors and teachers on behalf of young children, Monge said.

The report also noted that 25.6 percent of children younger than 6 lived below the federal poverty level in 2010. Those numbers increase to more than four in 10 children under age 6 living in L.A. County when looking at household incomes 1.5 times the poverty level. (The federal poverty line is equal to a $22,050 annual income for a family of four). These statistics are important to the work of First 5 LA and everyone who serves this vulnerable population because poverty brings long-lasting and wide-ranging problems, such as increased likelihood of suffering from childhood obesity, being abused or neglected, having dental problems due to lack of care, troubles in school and asthma. In addition, pregnant women are less likely to get prenatal care. (To see how the Southern California First 5 commissions are addressing childhood poverty, click here.)

Additional Reading:

California's population growth to slow in coming decades (Los Angeles Times)

State of America's Children 2011 (Monday Morning Report)

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