More than half of all Americans are currently under 38 years of age. By 2060, however, the majority will be at least 43-years-old, according to Census Bureau projections. Though the United States as a whole is aging rapidly, there are parts of the country where the number of young people is a defining demographic characteristic.
The increasingly aging population is largely the product of a falling birth rate and long-term improvements in life expectancy. Despite this trend, almost every state has at least one county where the median age is far lower than typical. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median age by county to identify the youngest county in every state. These counties are often urban and include independent cities in Maryland and Virginia that effectively function as counties.
Many of the counties on this list are home to large colleges and universities. As the vast majority of the 19.9 million college and university students in the United States are under 25 years old, the presence of a post-secondary institution can reduce the median age of any county. Story County, Iowa, home to Iowa State University; Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, home to Mississippi State University; and Riley County, Kansas, where Kansas State University is located each rank as the youngest county in its state. In these and several other counties on this list, more than one in every four residents are enrolled in college or graduate school.
Some counties on this list skew younger due to a growing number of new families. In the youngest counties in Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah, more than one in every 10 residents are under age 5. New families can also drive population growth, and the vast majority of counties on this list are larger now than they were five years ago. In some states, including New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, the youngest county is also the state’s fastest growing county.
Just because a county has the youngest population in the state does not necessarily mean it is younger than the United States as a whole. In both Connecticut and Maine, the median age in the youngest county is higher than the 37.8-year national median. Both Connecticut and Maine rank among the oldest states in the country, with median ages of 40.8 years and 44.3 years respectively.