How Much are School Systems Spending on our Children’s Education?

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Written by: Mark Dixon

For decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has collected data on how governments and school systems spend money on education, and the resulting statistics allow policymakers to see trends.

Current spending per pupil generally increased over the last decade with a slowing of growth for fiscal year 2009 and FY 2010. Current spending per pupil increased slightly from $10,600 in FY 2010 to $10,608 in FY 2011, an increase of only eight dollars from the prior year. Recently released Census Bureau data show spending per pupil in FY 2012 was $10,608, the same amount as the previous year.

Total expenditures of public elementary-secondary school systems decreased slightly (0.4 percent) from $596.3 billion in FY 2011 to $593.8 billion in FY 2012. This is the third straight year (and third year overall) that total expenditures decreased since the Census Bureau began collecting this data annually in 1977.  What contributed to this decline? School systems in this country spent $2.2 billion less on capital outlays such as construction and equipment expenditures, a 4.2 percent decrease from FY 2011. Many other expenditure categories showed only slight increases from the prior year, including employee benefits (2.0 percent increase) and support services expenditures (0.3 percent increase). Spending on instruction decreased 0.4 percent, while spending on salaries and wages decreased by 0.9 percent.

These recently released data provide the ability to compare the financial activity of public elementary and secondary school systems across states.  In addition to school system spending data, the annual Public Education Finances report provides information on the revenues, debt and assets of our nation’s school systems.

Although current spending per pupil for the country as a whole did not change in FY 2012, 29 states showed increases, while 21 states and the District of Columbia showed decreases.

The states (or state equivalent) with the most spending per pupil were New York ($19,552); the District of Columbia ($17,468), which comprises a single urban district; Alaska ($17,390); New Jersey ($17,266); and Connecticut ($16,274).

The states with the least spending per pupil were Utah ($6,206), Idaho ($6,659), Oklahoma ($7,466), Arizona ($7,559) and Mississippi ($8,164).

For more details on the finances of public elementary-secondary schools systems, read the full Public Education Finances: 2012 report.

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Where Do People Bike & Walk to Work? College Towns

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Cartoon_USWritten by: Brian McKenzie

Biking to work has increased in large U.S. cities over the last decade.  In cities such as Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis the percentage of people who biked to work more than doubled. These cities are known for their bike share programs, bike lanes, and pedestrian friendly sidewalks and streets.

Many small (populations of 20,000 to 99,999) and midsized cities (populations of 100,000 to 199,999) also have a sizable share of their workers commuting by biking or walking. Many of these places are better known for the colleges and universities that call them home. With much of the population of college towns made up of students living near the campuses where they are likely employed, it is no surprise that biking and walking are popular among commuters.

Of the 30 small and midsized cities that ranked among the highest in rates of walking to work, 22 were “college towns.” The small city of Ithaca, N.Y., home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, had among the highest rate of walking to work for small cities. In Ithaca more than 42 percent of commuters walked to work. Cambridge, Mass., is a midsized city that also has two large colleges within the city, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Twenty-four percent of its workers commute to work by foot. Cambridge also ranks high among midsized cities with high rates of biking to work, with 7.2 percent of workers commuting by bike. Among smaller cities, Davis, Calif., home to a University of California campus, 18.6 percent of people bike to work.

Several college towns rank high in both walking and biking to work. For example, in the city of Boulder, Colo., home of the University of Colorado, 9.2 percent of people walk to work and 10.5 percent bike to work.

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Who Bikes to Work in America?

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Written by: Brian McKenzie

As cities take steps to increase transportation options, many people choose to ride a bike to work or walk. Timed with National Bike to Work Month, the Census Bureau has released its first-ever report on biking and walking to work. If you have ever wondered who chooses this form of commuting, this report highlights annual American Community Survey information on biking and walking but also offers new information about these travel modes for specific populations.

Although changes in rates of bicycle commuting vary across U.S. communities, many cities have experienced relatively large increases in bicycle commuting in recent years. The total number of bike commuters in the U.S. increased from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the period from 2008 to 2012, a larger percentage increase than that of any other commuting mode. Walking_biking_ByIncome

There are notable differences across population groups when it comes to those who walk or bike to work. As one might expect, younger workers, those ages 16 to 24, had the highest rate of walking to work, at 6.8 percent and the highest rate of bicycling to work, at 1.0 percent. On the other hand, the oldest workers had the lowest rates of biking to work. The decline in biking and walking as age increases may be linked to factors such as workers’ physical abilities, residential location and income.Walking_biking_ByAge

In addition to age of workers, we also see different patterns emerge for income and education. Workers with both the highest and lowest education and income levels also have the highest rates of biking to work.

In addition, more than twice as many men bike to work as women at 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Differences in rates of walking to work were smaller. Men walked to work at a rate of 2.9 percent, compared with 2.8 percent of women.

Although, bicycling and walking make up a relatively small portion of commuting activity in the United States, they play important roles within many of the nation’s local transportation systems. Infrastructure that supports bicycling and walking expands transportation options, and the American Community Survey provides crucial information about changes in how people get to work each year.

For more information on bicycling and walking to work or other aspects of commuting, see our commuting home page at

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U.S. Population Will Get Older but Remain Younger than Most Developed Countries

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Written By: Victoria A. Velkoff, Jennifer M. Ortman and Sandra ColProjectionBlog_Graphicby

Between 2012 and 2050, the share of the world’s population age 65 and over is projected to double from 8 percent in 2012 to 16.7 percent in 2050 (see figure). Although the United States is also projected to age over this period, it will remain one of the youngest developed countries, with 20.9 percent of its population 65 and over in 2050.

In contrast, Japan is projected to continue to be the oldest country of those with a population greater than 50,000, with 40.1 percent age 65 and over in 2050. Other developed countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland, are expected to have nearly one-third of their populations age 65 and over.

Compared to the largest countries in the world, the United States had the greatest proportion of the population 65 and over in 2012, 13.7 percent compared with 9.1 percent in China and 5.6 percent in India. However, by 2050, China is projected to have surpassed the U.S. with a larger proportion of its population 65 and older (26.8 percent versus 20.9 percent).

Although a larger proportion of the U.S. population is currently in the older ages, China and India have much larger populations overall, including 65 and over. In 2012, China had 122 million and India had 67 million people 65 and over, compared with 43 million in the United States.

Growth in the proportion of the population in the oldest ages is driven by trends in fertility, mortality and international migration within each country.

Declines in fertility rates throughout much of the world have led to slower growth at the youngest ages. Decreases in mortality rates result in longer life expectancies and increases in the number of people that survive to the older ages, resulting in growth of the older population.

In the United States, international migration, which bolsters the size of the population between the working ages (18 to 64), is an important component keeping the United States among younger developed countries.

For more information about the Census Bureau’s projections for the United States, please visit: For information about the Census Bureau’s  projections for other countries, please visit:

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About Half of Internationally Adopted Children were Born in Asia

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Written by: Rose M. Kreider

The United States adopts more children from abroad than any other nation. Over time, the countries from which American parents adopt have shifted. Some of these changes are evident in the age distribution of internationally adopted children.

A new report, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2010, uses multiyear data from the American Community Survey (2009 to 2011) as well as other data sources to provide a look at characteristics of adopted children, such as country of origin.

Thirteen percent of adopted children of the householder were internationally adopted. About half (51 percent) of these internationally adopted children under age 18 were born in Asia, about one-fifth (20 percent) in Latin America and about one-quarter (25 percent) in Europe.

Overall, China was the largest single-country source of internationally adopted children, comprising about 60,000 children or 29 percent of all internationally adopted children  and 57 percent of adopted children from Asia. However, this has changed since the 1990s.

During 2009-2011, 23 percent of adopted children from Asia were born in Korea. For adopted children 18 and over from Asia who lived with their parents, 71 percent were born in Korea. Although only a small proportion of adults live with their parents, these data reflect the dominance of Korea as a source country for adopted children prior to the 1990s (see discussion by Peter Selman).

Turning to adoptions from Europe, the majority (73 percent) of internationally adopted children under 18 came from Russia. When considering all internationally adopted children, we see that at least 20 percent of children in each age group, for those 6 to 17, were born in Russia. For internationally adopted children who were under age 6, however, only 12 percent were adopted from Russia.

From Latin American, the majority (71 percent) of adopted children weradoptedchildren_bloge born in Guatemala.

When considering all internationally adopted children, just 5 percent of older children age 15 to 17 were born in Guatemala, compared with 25 percent of children under age 6. This shows the growth in Guatemala as a source country for international adoption.

Figure 6 graphs the percent distribution of region of birth by the current age of the child.

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