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2017 Annual Assessment

In Western societies today, demographic events and processes tend to unfold slowly. Changes in population size, scope of immigration, and fertility and mortality patterns aggregate and gain significant influence only after several years. Therefore, although Jewish demographic patterns are stable overall, reflecting very moderate trends of growth and improvement along a few key measures, we are leaving the demographic gauge unchanged.

 

In Western societies today, demographic events and processes tend to unfold slowly. Changes in the size of a population, scope of immigration, and fertility and mortality patterns aggregate and gain significant influence only after several years. This is no different for the world’s Jewish population, concentrated mostly in Israel, the Americas, and Europe. Therefore, although Jewish demographic patterns are stable overall, reflecting very moderate trends of growth and improvement along a few key measures, we have decided to leave the demographic gauge as is.

For 2016, approximately 100,000 individuals were added to the Jewish population of the world, which stands today at 14.5 million1. Changes in the size of the Jewish population worldwide highlight the growth of the number of Jews in Israel and the numerical stability of Jews in the United States (the two largest Jewish communities today). Indeed, according to Absorption Ministry statistics, the number of new immigrants to Israel in 2016 was 4000 individuals fewer than in 2015, but higher than in either 2013 or 2014.

The fertility rate among Jewish women in Israel continues to rise: from 3.09 in 2014 to 3.11 in 2015. The migration balance of Israelis, namely the number of those that leave minus the number of those that return after spending more than one year abroad, rose from 6.8 thousand in 2014 to a loss of 7.8 thousand in 2015. Even the rate of emigration, that is the number of those that leave relative to the size of the Jewish population in Israel, climbed from 1.9 for every thousand residents in 2014 to 2.5 in 2015).

It is noteworthy that, the Pew Research Center recently published an update and expansion of its demographic projections, including in regard to the world Jewish population. For Israel, the projection employed the halachic definition of who is Jewish, whereas for Diaspora Jews the criterion was self-definition. Assuming a continuation of the recently prevailing patterns, the global Jewish population is expected to grow to 16.1 million by 2050. The bulk of this growth will take place in Israel, where the Jewish community is expected to increase to 8.2 million during this period. The number of U.S. Jews will, until mid-century, shrink by about 300,000 (to 5.4 million), and is expected to remain stable throughout the rest of the Diaspora at about 2.5 million Jews.

Endnotes

1 Sergio DellaPergola. (Forthcoming). “World Jewish Population, 2017”. American Jewish Year Book 2017. Arnold Dhasefsy and Ira Sheskin (eds.). Springer.,

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