Orthodox birthrate seen saving Jewish majority in Israel
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Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Copyright © 2007 East West
WASHINGTON — The Jewish birth rate was expected to exceed that of
Muslims in Israel over the next 18 years, a report said.
A study by the Washington-based American-Israel Demographic Research
Group said Jewish fertility, the highest in the developed world, was rapidly
approaching that of Arabs in Israel. The group, in a report entitled
"Forecast for Israel 2025," projected a 79 percent Jewish majority as well
as long-term population stability between Jewish-Arab population groups in
The report, in contrast to the forecasts by Israeli demographers, said
Jewish growth would be based on the Orthodox community. The group said that
by 2025, Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector would grow from 16 percent to
23 percent of the nation's population. The ultra-Orthodox was expected to
increase to 29 percent of the Jewish sector.
"Israel's Arab sector will grow from 20 percent to 21 percent of
Israel's total population," the report said. "After 2025, the Jewish
majority will rebound past its current 80 percent position
as natural growth in high growth Jewish sectors overtakes growth in Arab
The so-called secular and traditional Jews would drop from the current
64 percent to 56 percent of Israel's population. The secular-traditional
sector would decrease from the current 80 percent to 71 percent of the
The report linked predicted Jewish growth to the current "baby-boomer"
generation as well as steady immigration. At the same time, Arab fertility
rates dropped from over nine births per woman in the 1960s to 4.4 in 2000
and 3.6 in 2006.
"The mid-case 2025 forecast holds current Jewish fertility levels
steady at 2.75 births per woman and annual net aliyah [immigration] of
20,000 based on the recent five-year average and internal targets of
Israel's Jewish Agency," the report said. "The AIDRG forecast gradually
reduces Arab fertility levels to 2.4 births per woman by 2025 where they
stabilize at this long-term intermediate rate."
The study cited 80,000 Jewish births in 1995 and 109,000 in 2006, a 36
percent increase. The group predicted an imminent surge in Jewish births
based on the increased pregnancy rate recorded shortly after the Lebanon war
"Faster convergence in Arab and Jewish fertility or upturns in aliyah
would increase the Jewish percentage to 83 percent by 2025 from the current
80 percent," the report said. "If Arab fertility only declines to 3.0, the
current Arab rate in northern Israel, the Jewish population will decline to