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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Census Bureau: PR’s under-18 population has dropped 3.4%

Between 2020 and 2021, Puerto Rico’s population under 18 years of age decreased by an estimated 3.4%, from 567,614 to 545,790.

By John McPhaul

The United States Census Bureau on Thursday published the most recent data from the Annual Population Estimates by age and sex characteristics for municipalities, and for all of Puerto Rico, as well as for counties in the rest of the United States, finding among other things that the island population under 18 years of age decreased by an estimated 3.4%.

The statistics refer to July 1, 2021 and include estimates of the population by age groups for each municipality, as well as by simple age for Puerto Rico. On behalf of the State Data Center of the U.S. Census Bureau in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics reported various findings of the new publication of population estimates for the year 2021:

Compared to July 1, 2020, versus the most recent year available, July 1, 2021, estimates indicate that:

The population under 18 years of age decreased by an estimated 3.4%, from 567,614 (2020) to 545,790 (2021).

The minor population (<18) comprised 17% of the total population of Puerto Rico for the year 2021.

Its counterpart, the population aged 65 and over, increased by 2.4%, from 723,165 (2020) to 740,489 (2021).

This elderly population (65+) comprised 23% of the total population of Puerto Rico in the year 2021.

The young-adult population (18-64) decreased by 0.7%, from 567,614 (2020) to 545,790 (2021).

This population, also known as the active or independent population (18-64), turned out to be about 60% of the total population of Puerto Rico for the year 2021.

The median age of the total population increased from 43.8 to 44.2 years.

Regarding the geographical distribution of the municipalities for the year 2021, considering the indicators of broad age groups and the median age, they show that municipalities with the highest percentages of population under 18 years of age were Barranquitas and Peñuelas with around 20%, followed by Naguabo and Jayuya with around 19%.

The southwest coast (from Lajas in the south to Aguada in the west) shows a concentration of municipalities with low percentages of the population of minors between 14% and 16%.

In the metropolitan area, Guaynabo, Bayamón and San Juan also reflected low percentages (14%-16%) of minors among their population.

Among the 10 municipalities with the highest percentage, that is, 25% or more, of its population being elderly (65+), eight of them are located in the western region. These are: Hormigueros, Rincón, San Germán, Lajas, Guánica, Mayagüez, San Sebastián and Sabana Grande.

Regarding the median age of the population, the municipalities of Hormigueros and Rincón showed the highest median (49.6), indicating that they are the municipalities with the oldest population, and the median is close to 50 years.

The geographic pattern highlights two concentrations among the municipalities with the highest median age, in the southwest (Yauco to Cabo Rojo, reaching the center in Maricao) and on the southeast coast (between Patillas and Humacao).

“The rate of reduction in the population under 18 years of age continues to be impressive, continues in free fall,” said Alberto Velázquez-Estrada, senior manager of statistical projects at the Institute, in a written statement. “Just two decades ago (2000 Census) this population exceeded one million people; the new estimate (2021) already indicates that there are about half a million. The repercussions will continue to manifest themselves in those entities that serve this population and, for example, could further complicate the picture of the university education sector in Puerto Rico.”

As an interactive summary, the Institute published a visualization that allows viewing the new series of estimates by broad age groups, at the municipal level, facilitating geographic comparison within Puerto Rico.

The visualization can be accessed at:!

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