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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is Israeli demography changing?

According to this press release, Jews are having more babies, and Arabs are having less. Therefore, Jews will gradually constitute a larger sector of the Israeli population. They will be orthodox and ultra-orthodox. Extrapolation is tricky however. Orthodox Jews have many children, but not all of them remain ultra-orthodox. Eventually, a regard for the limitations of our national resources may also force a change in demographic policy. Moreover, examination of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics figures for fertility does not necessarily bear out the analysis below.
Press Release
American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG)
For Immediate Release
April 23, 2007
Bennett Zimmerman,
In USA      
Yoram Ettinger,
In Israel              
As Israel's Celebrates 59th Independence Day, American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) reports acceleration in Jewish demographic momentum and rapid convergence of Arab and Jewish fertility levels in Israel.
The AIDRG current trends and updated "Forecast for Israel 2025" projects a 79% Jewish majority population and long-term population stability between Jewish-Arab population groups in Israel.   
·        By 2025, Israel's most Orthodox Jewish communities will grow from 16% to 23% of Israel's total population (and from 20% to 29% of Jewish sector)
·        Israel's secular/traditional Jewish sector will fall from 64% to 56%  of Israel's total population (and from 80% to 71% of Jewish sector)
·        Israel's Arab sector will grow from 20% to 21% of Israel's total population
After 2025, the Jewish majority will rebound past its current 80% position as natural growth in high growth Jewish sectors overtakes growth in Arab population groups.
Demographic Leadership in Israel is shifted from Arab to Jewish population groups  As the current Jewish 'baby boomers' begin to enter their childbearing years while the current contraction of births and an aging Arab community will limit growth rates in Israel's Arab community.
The mid-case 2025 forecast  holds current Jewish fertility levels steady at 2.75 births per woman and annual net aliyah of 20,000 based on the recent 5 year average and internal targets of Israel's Jewish Agency. 
The AIDRG forecast gradually reduces Arab fertility levels to 2.4 births/woman by 2025 where they stabilize at this long-term intermediate rate.  As aliyah has lessened, the Jewish total fertility rate (TFR), or the number of children a woman is likely to bear over her lifetime, has been rising. 
Faster convergence in Arab and Jewish fertility or upturns in aliyah would increase the Jewish percentage to 83% by 2025 from the current 80%.  If Arab fertility only declines to 3.0, the current Arab rate in northern Israel, the Jewish population will decline to 77%.
Breakout in Jewish Demographic momentum
Fertility rates in Israel, the highest of  any advanced industrial nation, rose steadily to over 2.75 births/woman among Jews. 
·        Jewish births surged from 80,000 in 1995 to 109,000 in 2006, an increase of 36% and an acceleration of 4% in 2006 alone.  Jewish births have grown from 69% of all births in 1995 to 74% in 2006 and 76% in January 2007.  These changes have been recorded ahead of an expected surge in Jewish births following a markedly higher pregnancy rate recorded shortly after .Israel's month long Lebanon war last summer.
·        Net annual aliyah (immigrants plus returning Israelis less emigrants) has averaged over 50,000 as recently as 1996 through 2000 and 20,000 per year from 2001 through 2005, adding further demographic strength to the Jewish sector. (ICBS, Sources of Population Growth, 2001 – 2005, 99.4K Net Migration to Jewish
AIDRG Introduces Spotlight Forecast Israel's Fastest Growing Orthodox Jewish Sector
The AIDRG introduces a growth forecast for the 20% most Orthodox segment..  Based on ICBS regional population and fertility data, AIDRG has derived fertility in this group as currently 4.5 births/woman.
While the ICBS rightly releases detailed reports on the Druze and Christian Arabs, communities each totaling only slightly over 100,000 persons, there is almost no information segregated for large communities within the Jewish community that display similar fertility patterns. 
The Orthodox sector is as large as Israel's entire Moslem community, as example, and is experiencing no signs of letup in robust fertility, yet it has remained under-analyzed in Israel.
A separate population forecast was conduced for this community through 2025 and Beyond.  Fertility are held steady through 2025 and beyond to understand the impact of continued robust patterns by Israel's most furtive major population group. 
The highest fertility rates in Israel on a sustained basis act to propel Jewish demographic momentum, especially after children being born today in these sectors begin to have children two decades from now.  Maintenance of their patterns over time has a very powerful impact on Jewish growth rates in Israel.  
The separation of the groups does not have a dramatic impact initially to population levels, but after 2025 the demographic momentum in births accelerates as children in the community today begin to have children.
AIDRG Spotlights Rising Fertility in Israel's Majority Secular Jewish Sector and Normalization of Immigrant Fertility to Israeli Norm
Births in the corresponding 80% of the Jewish population are 2.1 births/woman. 
While it is often anecdotally true that religious person in Israel with high fertility characteristics will indeed have more grandkids than his or her secular counterpart with lower fertility patterns, the long-term Jewish demographic breakout in Israel depends on the participation of all sectors of the larger Jewish population group. 
Because the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews live in large urban zones such as Tel Aviv and the Central District, the upturn in the fertility rate in Israel's more secular zones has immediate impact on increasing the number of children today.
Childbearing choices have the potential to add most to the Jewish demographic momentum in exactly the large sectors where it was least expected in Israel's prior forecasts.
Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who were expected to repeat fertility characteristics in this group are now adopting Israeli norms as their family size increases while in Israel.
Orthodox, secular and new immigrants sectors all experienced increased fertility in 2006 and all sectors are leading to a demographic breakout in the Jewish community.
Convergence of Arab fertility patterns to Israeli norms
The increased momentum on the Jewish sector is occurring as lower fertility patterns are measured in all sectors of Israel's Arab community.  The lower fertility is occurring among an Arab generation that was expected by Israeli demographers to repeat fertility patterns of their mothers, while these women are not even repeating fertility patterns of their older sisters.
·        Israel Arab births in Israel rose from 36,500 in 1995 to 41,000 in 2000 and then stabilized [for five years].  In 2005, Israel Arab births fell 5% in one year to 38,800 and have remained at this level in 2006, similar to levels recorded a decade ago
·        Arab fertility rates have plunged from over 9.0 births/woman in the 1960s to 4.4 in 2000 to 3.6 in 2006.  Arab and Jewish fertility have converged in the most heavily Arab populated zones in Israel:
o       Half of Israel's Arab population lives in the North where fertility levels have fallen to 3 births/woman, a rate now almost equal to the overall Israeli Jewish rate. 
o       Christian Arabs continue to exhibit fertility levels of 2.1, barely at replacement level while Israeli Druze now match the Israeli Jewish norm.
o       In Jerusalem, rapidly falling Arab fertility from 4.5 births in 2004 to 3.9 births in 2005 now match a steadily rising Jewish fertility of 3.9 births/woman while Jewish fertility of 4.7 births/woman in West Bank suburbs stands above all other groups in the Jerusalem Metro Area
o       150 thousand Bedouin in Northern Negev, the last Arab community with high fertility rates, have witnessed a decline  from 9.6 2004 to 7 births/woman in 2006. The full impact of reduced government monetary incentives is yet to be measured.
Bedouin in the Negev still present critical sociological and demographic challenge for Israel
Focused policies to normalize the Bedouin community's behavior would bring a further convergence in Jewish and Arab fertility levels.  If Israel wishes to maintain the current convergence of Arab and Jewish fertility, Israel must address the issue now. Only 2% of Israeli 20 year old women are from the Bedouin Negev, but 4% of Israeli 10 years olds are from the same community.
High teenage pregnancy rates and early marriage of Israel's youngest citizens to men many times their age remains both a sociological challenge and human rights challenge for many young Israeli Arab women who do not have the life choices characteristic of  a modern society.  High Bedouin fertility also involves law enforcement issues including polygamy, smuggling of women, birth under false identity, and fraud in collection of government support payments
AIDRG analysis of emerging trends in Israel is based on data released by the ICBS and published for public use.
The American-Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), led by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise,  and Yoram Ettinger.  The AIDRG authored Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza:  The Million Person Gap,  (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies) and debuted their Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025 at Israel's Herzliya Policy Conference and at the American Enterprise Institute.  The studies can be found at

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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