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Sunday, October 06, 2019 

Jewish fertility in Israel rises while Islamic fertility declines

The birthrate in Israel is improving for Israelis, while for Muslims it's falling:
The demographic shift in Israel, marked by an increase in fertility rates among Jews and a decrease among Muslims, continued last year, as the total fertility rate for Jewish women hit a 45-year high.

According to data released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the total fertility rate – that is, the average number of children a woman will have in her life time – for Jewish women in Israel rose in 2018 to 3.17, the highest level since the early 1970s, when the Jewish TFR averaged 3.28. In the 1990s, the Jewish TFR fell to its lowest level, averaging 2.62 both between 1990 to 1994 and 1995 to 1999.

The increase in the Israeli Jewish TFR in 2018 was smaller than in previous years, rising only 0.01 from the 3.16 total fertility rate in 2017.

The rise was fueled primarily by an increase in the number of women in older age groups having children, which offset a decline among younger women. While the general fertility rate – the number of women per 1,000 who gave birth - among teenagers aged 15 to 19 fell from 4.2 to 3.9 and also fell among women in their early 20s from 89.0 to 88.0, every age cohort 25 and up saw an increase.

Jewish women ages 25 to 29 had a general fertility rate of 176.0 in 2018, compared to 174.4 the year before, while women ages 30-34 had a GFR of 201.1, compared to 200.8 in 2017.

Christian and Druze women also saw an increase in their total fertility rates, though both remain far below the Jewish rate. Christian women – including both Arab Christians and Christian immigrants who moved to Israel with Jewish relatives – saw their TFR rise from 1.93 in 2017 to 2.06 in 2018. The Druze total fertility rate rose from 2.10 to 2.16.

But birthrates declined for both Muslim women in Israel and women not registered with any religious group, with the latter group’s total fertility rate falling from 1.58 to 1.54.

Muslim women still had the highest total fertility rate in 2018 at 3.20, despite falling from 3.37 the year before. Among Israeli Arabs as a whole, however, the TFR fell in 2018 to 3.04 – below the Jewish TFR of 3.17. The 3.20 TFR marks the lowest level recorded among Muslim Arab women in Israel, who fifty years ago had on average six more children than Jewish women (TFR 9.22 vs 3.3.6).
It's great that Jewish society's waking up and recognizing the benefits of child-bearing, even at an older age, which is remarkable.

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