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Chapter 9:

Size and Composition of the Youth Population

Using data and projections supplied by the Census Bureau, the Committee examined trends in the size and make-up of the cohort of youth in the prime recruiting pool (i.e., 18 year-olds). In 1999, there were approximately 3.9 million residents in the United States who fell into this group. Projections suggest that the number of 18 year-olds will grow in the years immediately ahead, reaching a high of about 4.4 million in the year 2009. After that, it is anticipated that the upward trend will ebb to some degree, stabilizing at about 4.1 to 4.2 million between 2015 and 2020. The Committee concluded that the increased numbers of youth in the prime recruiting pool will offset other trends that might suggest greater recruiting difficulties in the future (see below).

As reported in Chapter 2 of this volume, the racial and ethnic composition of 2001 Active Component NPS accessions closely mirrored the civilian population of 18-24 year olds, with Hispanics being slightly under represented and Blacks somewhat over represented. Again using Census Bureau projections, the Committee examined likely changes in the racial/ethnic make-up of the youth population in the years to come. They found that the proportion of non-Hispanic Blacks will hold stable at approximately 14 percent, while non-Hispanic Whites will decline from around 66 percent of 18 year-olds to 57 percent in the next two decades. This difference will be countered by a corresponding growth in the numbers of Hispanic youth, whose proportional representation will increase from 14 to 22 percent. In fact, the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 58 percent between 1990 and 2000, a much greater growth rate than for the total population (13 percent).[Footnote 2] The Committee noted, however, that the proportion of foreign-born youth has remained relatively stable over the past several years (less than one-tenth of one percent), and is expected to remain so.

[Footnote 2]  U.S. Census Bureau. (2001). The Hispanic Population. Census 2000 Brief. URL: population/www/cen2000/briefs.html. [back to paragraph]


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