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2019 Annual Assessment

Jewish fertility outside of Israel currently stands at one and a half children per woman, on average. However, the Diaspora communities vary in their fertility levels: the Former Soviet Union countries exhibit a particularly low fertility rate (slightly more than one child per woman), compared with one and a half children in North America, France, and Argentina, and 2.1 children in Mexico. Israeli fertility rates are much higher. During the period 2010-2014, the Israeli figure was 3.03, with a rise to 3.16 in 2016 that remained unchanged in 2017 (the last year for which information is available).7 In general, the Israel-to-Diaspora ratio is 2:1 Jewish births.

One decisive fertility variable is religiosity (see Graph 4). The fertility rate of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women is nearly four times higher than secular women, and 1.8 times higher than that of non-Haredi religious women. Recent years have witnessed a rise in the average number of children among Israeli Jews, but the increase for Haredi women is much greater than for secular women. Should these disparities persist, the Haredi population’s growth rate will surpass that for Israel’s secular population.

As seen in the graph, there has been a slight drop over the last few years in religious women’s fertility rates. When the figures for this group are examined over a longer period – from the turn of the century – one finds fluctuations ranging from a minimum of 3.8 children per woman, on average, to [a peak of] 4.28 children.8 We suggest that the 4.28 figure was an outlier, and that one should not, based on figures from the last few years, deduce a downturn in the fertility rate of religious women in Israel.