Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rise in Jewish Israeli Births

Maayana Miskin Rise in Jewish Israeli Births

Good news for Jewish demographics in Israel: the latest statistics released by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows a rising birth rate in the Jewish sector. However, Jewish family sizes are still smaller than those in the Arab population.

The data on families and family size published on Monday in honor of the beginning of “Family Day” showed that the number of Jewish births has increased by 45 percent in less than 15 years, from 80,400 in 1995 to 117,000 in 2008. At the same time, the Arab birthrate has remained stable at approximately 39,000 a year. As a result, the “fertility gap” between Arab and Jewish families has shrunk to only 0.7 percent, and the proportion of Jewish births has grown from under 70 percent in 1995 to 75 percent in 2008.

Demographer Yoram Ettinger said the statistics were cause for celebration among those who desire a strong Jewish majority in Israel.

Ettinger encouraged the government to further increase the Jewish birthrate by encouraging immigration and repatriation, taking steps to ease life for working parents, developing sparsely populated areas and easing the conversion process.

According to the census, the average Israeli family includes 3.7 members. Jewish families averaged at 3.5 members, as compared to 4.9 in Arab families.

The data also revealed that there are roughly 101,000 families led by single parents, out of a total of 1,690,000 families with children under the age of 18. In total, approximately 173,000 children and teens are growing up in single-parent households.

The number of single women raising children alone – both single and divorced – shot up by 54 percent in less than a decade. In the year 2000 an estimated 8,400 women headed single-parent households, while that number increased to 12,900 in 2007.

The largest Israeli families on average are located in Judea and Samaria, where the average family numbers 4.5 members, followed by families in the Jerusalem area and in the north with 4.3 and 4.1 members, respectively. Families in central Israel had an average of 3.6 members, compared to 3.5 members per family in the Haifa district, 3.8 members per family in the south, and 3.2 members per family in Tel Aviv.

More than one-third of the Arab families in Israel number six or more members, while only 10 percent of Jewish families include six or more members.

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