Number of young children in Los Angeles County drops

The number of children aged 5 to 9 dropped by 21 percent in Los Angeles County over the past decade, making the county a major contributor to a statewide decline in the population of young children, according to a USC analysis of census data released today.

"We are ground zero of the `missing children' of California," according to study co-author Dowell Myers, a USC professor of urban planning and demography.

According to the university's analysis, the lack of families with young children appears to be a result of tough economic conditions, including high housing costs and unemployment.

Statewide, there was an 8.1 percent decrease in the number children aged 5 to 9 over the past 10 years – a reduction of 220,041 kids, according to the report.

The decline could mean fewer future workers to replace retiring Baby Boomers, according to the study's authors.

The university's analysis also found:

– The number of single-father households in California jumped 17 percent between 2000 and 2010.

– The number of households composed of married couples and children dropped by 14 percent over the past decade in Los Angeles County. Orange County saw a 7.8 percent drop and San Diego lost 3.1 percent of such households. Riverside County saw a major increase in homes with married couples and children, up by 22.6 percent.