Special Report

Counties With the Youngest Populations

DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

The U.S. population is older now than it has been since record keeping began. The median age in the United States is 38.2 years, up from 36.9 years a decade ago, and from less than 30 in the 1970s. 

This trend is the result of several factors – both long and short term. For one, Americans are now living longer than they have in past decades. Driven in part by improvements in health care, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is now about 77 years, five years longer than it was in the mid-1970s. More recently, falling birth rates and tightened restrictions on immigration – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – have accelerated the aging of the U.S. population.

As the country as a whole is skewing older, there are places that stand out for having especially young populations. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 U.S. counties with the youngest populations. Among the counties and county equivalents – which includes independent cities – on this list, the median age of the population ranges from about 30 years down to just 22. 

The largest share of the counties and county equivalents on this list are in Southern states, though South Dakota alone is home to eight, the most of any state. Explanations for the low median age in these places range from one county to another – including a greater likelihood of residents starting or raising a family. In many counties on this list, the share of households home to children under the age of 18 is above the comparable national share of 30.7%. (Here is a look at the best and worst states to raise a family.)

Many counties, such as Story County, Iowa; Clarke County, Georgia; and the independent city of Lexington, Virginia are home to multiple colleges or large universities. In fact, in nearly half of the places on this list, the share of the population who are enrolled in college is more than double the 6.8% national share. 

Several other counties on this list – including Christian County, Kentucky and Geary County, Kansas – are home to major military installations. Because Americans must be between the ages of 17 and 35 to enlist, military bases tend to have relatively young populations. (Here is a look at the states where the most Americans serve in the military.)

In other cases, however, the low median age is attributable in part to low life expectancy. Places such as the Kusilvak Census Area in Alaska and Todd County, South Dakota, have limited economic opportunity, high poverty rates, and public health challenges that contribute to average life expectancy at birth that is over a decade below the national average. 

Click here to see the 50 U.S. counties with the youngest populations
Click here to read our detailed methodology

50. Waller County, Texas
> Median age (years): 29.5
> Population enrolled in college: 15.7% — 74th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 27.6% — 383rd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.7% — 120th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 53,626 — 942nd highest of 3,102 counties

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

49. Hidalgo County, Texas
> Median age (years): 29.4
> Population enrolled in college: 6.2% — 600th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 34.8% — 32nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.0% — 74th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 861,137 — 67th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: markrhiggins / iStock via Getty Images

48. Iron County, Utah
> Median age (years): 29.3
> Population enrolled in college: 12.1% — 126th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 31.1% — 110th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 12.8% — 217th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 53,148 — 953rd highest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

47. Bulloch County, Georgia
> Median age (years): 29.2
> Population enrolled in college: 21.5% — 33rd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 24.8% — 1,172nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.2% — 90th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 77,719 — 716th highest of 3,102 counties

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Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

46. Starr County, Texas
> Median age (years): 29.0
> Population enrolled in college: 5.9% — 661st highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 34.7% — 35th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.3% — 98th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 64,032 — 832nd highest of 3,102 counties

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

45. Webb County, Texas
> Median age (years): 28.9
> Population enrolled in college: 6.4% — 540th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 34.9% — 30th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.3% — 25th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 274,847 — 248th highest of 3,102 counties

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44. Liberty County, Georgia
> Median age (years): 28.8
> Population enrolled in college: 7.4% — 372nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 32.6% — 68th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 10.0% — 41st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 62,039 — 849th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

43. Isabella County, Michigan
> Median age (years): 28.7
> Population enrolled in college: 24.4% — 20th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 21.5% — 666th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 12.5% — 183rd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 70,363 — 768th highest of 3,102 counties

42. Sioux County, North Dakota
> Median age (years): 28.6
> Population enrolled in college: 4.8% — 1,056th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 36.9% — 15th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 8.5% — 15th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 4,339 — 231st lowest of 3,102 counties

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41. Lynchburg city, Virginia
> Median age (years): 28.5
> Population enrolled in college: 20.8% — 38th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 22.8% — 1,060th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 13.5% — 307th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 80,970 — 699th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

40. Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska
> Median age (years): 28.5
> Population enrolled in college: 1.6% — 101st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 37.3% — 14th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.7% — 10th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 7,709 — 490th lowest of 3,102 counties

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39. Tippecanoe County, Indiana
> Median age (years): 28.4
> Population enrolled in college: 22.7% — 28th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 23.7% — 1,477th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.0% — 77th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 193,302 — 343rd highest of 3,102 counties

Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

38. Kleberg County, Texas
> Median age (years): 28.4
> Population enrolled in college: 16.0% — 69th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 27.2% — 445th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 13.1% — 249th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 30,725 — 1,415th highest of 3,102 counties

37. Nome Census Area, Alaska
> Median age (years): 28.4
> Population enrolled in college: 2.4% — 416th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 36.8% — 18th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.7% — 9th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 10,009 — 677th lowest of 3,102 counties

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36. Bennett County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 28.4
> Population enrolled in college: 6.0% — 638th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 37.6% — 11th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.7% — 128th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 3,430 — 166th lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: JENNIFER E. WOLF / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

35. Clarke County, Georgia
> Median age (years): 28.3
> Population enrolled in college: 26.2% — 17th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 21.5% — 657th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 10.7% — 61st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 126,952 — 502nd highest of 3,102 counties (tied)

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34. Christian County, Kentucky
> Median age (years): 28.3
> Population enrolled in college: 5.4% — 819th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 32.5% — 71st highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 13.5% — 303rd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 71,470 — 756th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

33. Albany County, Wyoming
> Median age (years): 28.2
> Population enrolled in college: 29.9% — 9th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 18.2% — 150th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.8% — 131st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 38,664 — 1,209th highest of 3,102 counties

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32. Lincoln Parish, Louisiana
> Median age (years): 28.1
> Population enrolled in college: 19.6% — 43rd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 23.8% — 1,520th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 13.3% — 273rd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 47,118 — 1,034th highest of 3,102 counties

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31. Gaines County, Texas
> Median age (years): 28.1
> Population enrolled in college: 2.1% — 239th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 37.4% — 13th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 8.7% — 17th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 21,077 — 1,332nd lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: Jet Lowe / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

30. Bethel Census Area, Alaska
> Median age (years): 28.1
> Population enrolled in college: 2.1% — 238th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 37.8% — 9th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.5% — 7th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 18,263 — 1,195th lowest of 3,102 counties (tied)

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29. Corson County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 28.1
> Population enrolled in college: 2.5% — 459th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 38.6% — 5th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.1% — 84th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 4,106 — 212th lowest of 3,102 counties (tied)

28. Adams County, Washington
> Median age (years): 28.0
> Population enrolled in college: 2.1% — 250th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 36.7% — 19th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 10.5% — 54th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 19,702 — 1,261st lowest of 3,102 counties

27. Thurston County, Nebraska
> Median age (years): 28.0
> Population enrolled in college: 4.4% — 1,244th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 37.6% — 10th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.8% — 138th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 7,218 — 461st lowest of 3,102 counties

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26. Adair County, Missouri
> Median age (years): 27.9
> Population enrolled in college: 22.4% — 29th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 22.7% — 1,030th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 14.3% — 425th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 25,468 — 1,520th lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

25. Pulaski County, Missouri
> Median age (years): 27.8
> Population enrolled in college: 9.3% — 222nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 29.6% — 177th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 10.9% — 70th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 52,359 — 957th highest of 3,102 counties

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24. Wheeler County, Georgia
> Median age (years): 27.8
> Population enrolled in college: 2.5% — 467th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 30.8% — 121st highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 14.7% — 488th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 7,897 — 500th lowest of 3,102 counties

23. Dewey County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 27.4
> Population enrolled in college: 1.8% — 147th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 38.5% — 6th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.5% — 32nd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 5,841 — 343rd lowest of 3,102 counties

22. Payne County, Oklahoma
> Median age (years): 27.3
> Population enrolled in college: 25.9% — 18th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 22.3% — 900th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 12.6% — 199th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 81,912 — 692nd highest of 3,102 counties

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21. Brookings County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 27.3
> Population enrolled in college: 23.2% — 25th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 24.1% — 1,494th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.9% — 141st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 35,115 — 1,298th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: Larry_Reynolds / iStock via Getty Images

20. Story County, Iowa
> Median age (years): 26.8
> Population enrolled in college: 30.6% — 6th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 19.3% — 248th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.9% — 142nd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 97,355 — 614th highest of 3,102 counties

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19. Brazos County, Texas
> Median age (years): 26.8
> Population enrolled in college: 25.2% — 19th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 23.8% — 1,504th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.1% — 22nd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 226,370 — 299th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

18. Geary County, Kansas
> Median age (years): 26.6
> Population enrolled in college: 8.4% — 277th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 36.9% — 17th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.5% — 31st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 33,309 — 1,346th highest of 3,102 counties

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17. Onslow County, North Carolina
> Median age (years): 26.5
> Population enrolled in college: 8.0% — 303rd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 31.4% — 100th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.4% — 99th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 198,377 — 339th highest of 3,102 counties

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16. Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 26.5
> Population enrolled in college: 6.3% — 565th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 38.2% — 8th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 6.9% — 4th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 14,277 — 961st lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

15. Oktibbeha County, Mississippi
> Median age (years): 26.1
> Population enrolled in college: 30.8% — 5th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 21.8% — 738th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.2% — 87th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 49,593 — 995th highest of 3,102 counties

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14. Buffalo County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 26.1
> Population enrolled in college: 2.0% — 206th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 40.3% — 4th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.7% — 11th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 2,005 — 57th lowest of 3,102 counties

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13. Harrisonburg city, Virginia
> Median age (years): 25.8
> Population enrolled in college: 30.6% — 7th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 23.4% — 1,320th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 8.8% — 18th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 53,558 — 944th highest of 3,102 counties

12. Williamsburg city, Virginia
> Median age (years): 25.7
> Population enrolled in college: 38.7% — 3rd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 20.3% — 395th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 15.8% — 698th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 15,034 — 1,010th lowest of 3,102 counties

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Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

11. Riley County, Kansas
> Median age (years): 25.4
> Population enrolled in college: 27.2% — 14th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 21.2% — 589th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.6% — 34th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 74,059 — 742nd highest of 3,102 counties

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

10. Cache County, Utah
> Median age (years): 25.4
> Population enrolled in college: 15.3% — 81st highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 32.6% — 70th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 9.3% — 26th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 126,336 — 505th highest of 3,102 counties

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9. Whitman County, Washington
> Median age (years): 25.2
> Population enrolled in college: 36.9% — 4th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 20.6% — 438th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 10.5% — 53rd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 49,577 — 996th highest of 3,102 counties

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

8. Clay County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 25.2
> Population enrolled in college: 30.2% — 8th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 23.1% — 1,204th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 11.1% — 81st lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 14,076 — 949th lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: Fotoneurotic / iStock via Getty Images

7. Utah County, Utah
> Median age (years): 25.0
> Population enrolled in college: 13.1% — 105th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 35.6% — 24th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.6% — 8th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 621,506 — 107th highest of 3,102 counties

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska
> Median age (years): 24.1
> Population enrolled in college: 0.7% — 12th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 42.3% — 2nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 5.8% — 2nd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 8,298 — 544th lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

5. Chattahoochee County, Georgia
> Median age (years): 24.0
> Population enrolled in college: 7.6% — 346th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 38.5% — 7th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 5.4% — the lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 10,470 — 710th lowest of 3,102 counties (tied)

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4. Radford city, Virginia
> Median age (years): 23.7
> Population enrolled in college: 42.2% — 2nd highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 17.1% — 78th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 8.5% — 14th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 17,833 — 1,174th lowest of 3,102 counties

3. Todd County, South Dakota
> Median age (years): 23.6
> Population enrolled in college: 2.5% — 480th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 44.4% — the highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 7.5% — 6th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 10,308 — 703rd lowest of 3,102 counties

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Madison County, Idaho
> Median age (years): 23.5
> Population enrolled in college: 29.6% — 10th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 30.8% — 120th highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 6.6% — 3rd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 39,725 — 1,188th highest of 3,102 counties

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1. Lexington city, Virginia
> Median age (years): 22.2
> Population enrolled in college: 52.1% — the highest of 3,102 counties
> Population 18 and younger: 15.9% — 42nd lowest of 3,102 counties
> Population 65 and older: 13.7% — 335th lowest of 3,102 counties
> Total population: 7,205 — 460th lowest of 3,102 counties

Methodology

To determine the counties and county equivalents with the lowest median ages, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median age from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

Counties were excluded if median age was not available in the 2020 ACS or if the sampling error associated with a county’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a county’s median age was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all counties’ median ages. We similarly excluded counties that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.

Counties were ranked based on median age. To break ties, we used the share of the population that is 18 and younger. 

Additional information on the share of the population that is currently enrolled in college, the share of the population that is 18 and younger, the share of the population that is 65 and older, and total population are also five-year estimates from the 2020 ACS. 

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