DEMOGRAPHY


This entry is arranged according to the following outline:

INTRODUCTION

Jewish demography, like demography in general, deals essentially with the size and geographical distribution of the population, with its composition according to various characteristics (e.g., sex, age), and with population movements. The latter consist of natural movements or "*vital statistics" – births, deaths, marriages, and divorces; migratory movements (*migrations); and accessions to, or secessions from, the Jewish group. Demographic knowledge is based preponderantly on statistical data and their analysis; consequently data collection is an important part of demographic work. In recent decades, research has given increasing attention to the interrelation between demographic phenomena, in the narrow sense of the word, and cultural and economic phenomena. Since Diaspora Jews are scattered and everywhere in a minority status, and the very definition of Jewishness is today interpreted in differing ways, both the demographic profile and trends of the Jews and the study of the subject matter have peculiar aspects. Demographic work on Diaspora Jewry encounters special difficulties due to the lack of uniformity of available sources, and the need for data collection by Jewish institutions when official data are not available. Official statistics now exist only for a minority of Diaspora Jews, and even where they are forthcoming, they are mostly of a very general nature and insufficient for in-depth analysis (see *Vital Statistics).

SIZE AND GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF WORLD JEWRY

Major Geographical Shifts of World Jewry

Over the last 125 years, the geography of the Jews has changed completely. As a result of the Shoah and of large-scale international migrations, many veteran Diaspora communities in Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa virtually disappeared, or became small and precarious. Instead, two major demographic centers arose: the United States, whose Jewish stock arrived mainly in the period 1881–1924, and Israel, whose large-scale demographic expansion followed the establishment of the state in 1948. Several secondary Jewish population centers are now situated on either side of the Atlantic: in Western Europe, especially in France and England; in Canada, alongside the major Jewish Diaspora population in the U.S.; in South America, especially in Argentina; and in Australia.

These changes consisted largely of a westward shift of the world Jewish population. Only since 1948 was an eastward counterpull exercised by Israel. It has been calculated that, geographically, the virtual central point of world Jewry (considering both location and size of the various Jewish populations) was at the border of the Ukraine and Galicia in 1850. It shifted to a spot just west of Scotland in 1933 and toward the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean in 1960. It has since moved eastward reflecting the growing size and share of Jewish population In Israel. Likewise, the cultural-linguistic milieus in which the Jews live changed greatly. Until the onset of the modern migration movement toward the end of the 19th century, most Jews lived among peoples with Slavic languages, while other large Jewish populations had German-speaking surroundings in Europe and Arabic-speaking surroundings in Asia and Africa. All these milieus lost much of their importance for the Jews because of the Shoah and emigration. Correspondingly, there was a great rise in the proportion of Jews residing in countries whose official language is primarily English but also French or Spanish. With the growing demographic importance of Israel, Hebrew became the official as well as the everyday language of a considerable proportion of all Jews. On the other hand the diffusion of traditional Jewish languages of the Diaspora – Yiddish and Ladino – dramatically diminished in favor of the official languages of the various countries of Jewish residence. This reflected not only the special impact of emigration and the Shoah on the traditional centers of Yiddish and of Ladino in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, but also internal social and cultural processes among the Jews and changing relationships between them and the surrounding non-Jewish populations.

Table 1.World Jewish Population, by Official Language of Country of Residence, 19312005 (Rough Percent Estimates)a Table 1.
World Jewish Population, by Official Language of Country of Residence, 1931–2005 (Rough Percent Estimates)a

Official Language 1931 1967 2005
a Ranked by frequency in 2005.
Total 100 100 100
English 32 50 47
Hebrew 2 17 40
French 2 4 4
Russian and other Slavic Languages 41 18 3
Spanish and Portuguese 3 5 3
German 4 1 1
Arabic 4 1 0
Other 12 4 2

Finally, the "newness" of most of the numerically important Jewish populations of the various countries deserves to be emphasized. The majority of Jews now live in countries where, some generations ago, few or hardly any Jews were to be found. The countries with the 10 largest Jewish populations that accounted for about 95% of world Jewry in 2005, accounted only for a minor share in 1850. This has implications for the relationship between the Jews and the general population of the respective countries. In fact, most of those are immigration countries where not only the Jews but a large part of the population is of comparatively recent standing. In addition, the newness of many numerically important Jewish Diaspora groups affects the sphere of internal integration and organization, especially in view of the weakening over time of the religious factor (see *Community, Organization). The situation is obviously different in Israel, where common national aspirations and common practical needs generate stronger cohesive tendencies.

UP TO WORLD WAR I

During part of the 19th century, information on the number of Jews in various countries was unsatisfactory. Taking of official censuses was only gradually coming into use, and the completeness of some of the earlier censuses with regard to the Jews left much to be desired. There were virtually no censuses in Asia and Africa. In the Czarist Empire, which contained the largest number of Jews in the world, the first general census was taken only as late as 1897. In some countries of Western Europe and America, the Jews were not distinguished as such in the official statistics. Moreover, examination of the alleged number of Jews from successive official counts in Austria-Hungary and in some parts of the Czarist Empire makes the incompleteness of the earlier figures evident. This was apparently often due to a deliberate tendency on the part of many Jews to evade inclusion in official registrations and counts. Under these circumstances, comprehensive figures on the Jewish world population must be based partly on conjecture and cannot be viewed as more than very rough indications of an order of magnitude. A. *Ruppin estimated the total number of Jews at the end of the 18th century at 2,500,000. J. *Lestschinsky arrived at an estimate of about 3,250,000 Jews in 1825, of whom 2,750,000 (i.e., more than 80%) in Europe.

The figures on the subsequent development up to World War I, as presented in Table 2, are based (with some adaptations) on the studies of Lestschinsky.

World Jewish Population increased from about 4¾ million in 1850 to 13½ million in 1914, i.e., by 180% or by 16 per 1,000 annually. In comparison, during 1850–1900 the total world population is estimated to have grown by six-seven per 1,000 annually, and the population of Europe, North America, and Oceania by 11 per 1,000 annually. The faster growth of the Jews was due to their relatively larger natural increase, in consequence of the faster reduction of mortality among European Jewish communities. The proportion of Jews in Asia and Africa among all Jews in the world declined somewhat. This was due to their lower natural increase at that time, mainly because of higher mortality, as compared with the Jews in Europe and America (see *Vital Statistics).

A far more spectacular change in the geographical distribution of world Jewry was the increase in the proportion of Jews in America after 1880: from about 250,000 in that year to 1,175,000 in 1900 and nearly 3,500,000 in 1914, and from 3% to 11% and, by 1914, a quarter of world Jewry. The corresponding figures for the United States and Canada (together) were about 1,115,000 in 1900 and 3,360,000 in 1914. This rapid expansion of American Jewry was due to the migration of about 2,400,000 Jews during the years 1881–1914, of whom 2,150,000 went to the United States and Canada (see *Migration). Equally due to immigration, but on a much smaller scale, was the growth of the Jewish populations in South Africa and in Oceania.

While the proportion of European Jews among all the Jews in the world was reduced from 88% in 1880 to about two thirds in 1914, as a result of the heavy emigration, the absolute number of the Jews in Europe kept on growing from more than 4,000,000 in 1850 to 6,800,000 in 1880, 8,700,000 in 1900 and 9,100,000 in 1914. This numerical growth despite the heavy emigration drain – which, during the peak period of 1901–14, led to the departure of 1,600,000 Jews from Europe – is striking evidence for the natural increase of European Jews at that time. Even the number of Jews in Eastern Europe rose greatly from 1880 to 1900 and maintained itself from 1900 to 1914, though nearly all the overseas emigration consisted of persons originating from that region and there was, in addition, migration from Eastern to Central and Western Europe.

1914 TO 1939

During the period up to the outbreak of World War II, the Jewish population of the globe is estimated to have risen from about 13,500,000 to 16,500,000. The rate of growth was smaller than in the preceding period because of the reduction in natural increase caused by the spread of birth control among the Jews in Europe and America (see *Vital Statistics). The annual increase of world Jewry was about eight per 1,000. In comparison, total world population grew from 1920 to 1940 by ten per 1,000 annually, while the populations of Europe, North America, and Oceania, which underwent a demographic slowdown, grew by nine per 1,000 annually. Whereas the relative growth of the Jews had exceeded that of the peoples of Europe, North America, etc. in the 19th century, this was no longer so in the period between the two world wars.

The relative share of the European Jews among total world Jewry continued to decline from about two thirds in 1914 to 58% in 1939, mainly because of emigration to America, South Africa, Australia, and Ereẓ Israel. For the same reason and because of the reduced natural increase, the absolute number of Jews residing in Europe grew only a little between the two world wars. On the other hand, the proportion of American Jews among world Jewry grew from about a quarter in 1914 to a third in 1939. During this period, the relative growth of the number of Jews was much greater in Latin America and South Africa than in North America. This was due to the limitations imposed on immigration into the U.S., which very strongly affected the Jews (see *Migration).

On the other hand, there was a rise in the relative share of Jews in North Africa and, especially, in Asia. The main reasons were considerable Jewish migration to Ereẓ Israel, to the Asian territories of the U.S.S.R., and also to Egypt and an upward swing in the natural increase of the local Jewish population because of reduced mortality.

Table 2.World Jewish Population by Major Regions, 17002005a Table 2.
World Jewish Population by Major Regions, 1700–2005a

Region 1700 1800 1900 1939 1948b 1970c 2005d
a Minor discrepancies due to rounding.
b May 15.
c December 31.
d January 1.
e Eastern European countries that joined the European Union included in Eastern Europe.
f Including Asian parts of Russian Republic. Including Baltic countries.
g Asian parts of Turkey included in Europe.
h Including Ethiopia.
i South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other sub-Saharan countries.
j U.S.A., Canada.
k Australia, New Zealand.
Thousands
World total 1,100 2,500 10,600 16,500 11,500 12,662 13,034
Total Diaspora 1,095 2,493 10,550 16,055 10,735 10,080 7,796
Total Erez Israel 5 7 50 445 650 2,582 5,238
Europe 720 2,020 8,765 9,500 3,750 3,241 1,520
Western Europee 180 363 1,230 1,425 1,035 1,119 1,066
Eastern Europe and Balkanse 265 803 3,450 4,680 765 216 94
Former USSR in Europef 275 854 4,085 3,395 1,950 1,906 360
Asia 200 260 440 1,000 1,275 2,944 5,277
Palestine/Israel 5 7 50 445 650 2,582 5,238
Former USSR in Asia } 195 } 253 } 390 165 350 262 20
Other Asiag 390 275 100 19
Africa 175 212 340 600 700 207 79
North Africah 170 200 305 500 595 83 5
South Africai 5 12 35 100 105 124 74
America-Oceania 5 8 1,055 5,400 5,775 6,270 6,158
North Americaj } 5 } 8 1,000 4,940 5,215 5,686 5,652
Latin America 40 430 520 514 397
Oceaniak 0 0 15 30 40 70 109
Percent
World total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Total Diaspora 99.5 99.7 99.5 97.3 93.3 79.6 59.8
Total Erez Israel 0.5 0.3 0.5 2.7 5.7 20.4 40.2
Europe 65.5 80.8 82.7 57.6 32.6 25.6 11.7
Western Europee 16.4 14.5 11.6 8.6 9.0 8.8 8.2
Eastern Europe and Balkanse 24.1 32.1 32.5 28.4 6.7 1.7 0.7
Former USSR in Europef 25.0 34.2 38.5 20.6 17.0 15.1 2.8
Asia 18.2 10.4 4.2 6.1 11.1 23.3 40.5
Palestine/Israel 0.5 0.3 0.5 2.7 5.7 20.4 40.2
Former USSR in Asia } 17.7 } 10.1 } 3.7 1.0 3.0 2.1 0.2
Other Asiag 2.4 2.4 0.8 0.1
Africa 15.9 8.5 3.2 3.6 6.1 1.6 0.6
North Africah 15.5 8.0 2.9 3.0 5.2 0.6 0.0
South Africai 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.6 0.9 1.0 0.6
America-Oceania 0.5 0.3 10.0 32.7 50.2 49.5 47.2
North Americaj } 0.5 } 0.3 9.4 29.9 45.3 44.9 43.4
Latin America 0.4 2.6 4.5 4.1 3.0
Oceaniak 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.6 0.8
THE SHOAH

About six millions of Jews perished during the Nazi persecutions. In addition, there was a very low birth rate and survival of newborn among the Jews in the occupied territories. After the catastrophe, the total number of Jews was reduced by over one third. In consequence, a far-reaching change also took place in the geographical distribution of world Jewry. As the numerical strength of the European Jews waned, the relative shares of the Jews on the other continents rose. When it was again possible to do some statistical stocktaking in 1948, on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, less than a third of all Jews were found in Europe, as against more than a half in 1939. This change was essentially due to the enormous biological losses caused by the Shoah, but there was also some emigration from Europe in the early war years and again after the end of the war.

The Shoah was most devastating in the eastern parts of Europe occupied by the Nazis. In the years after the end of the war, a movement of *Displaced Persons also took place from Eastern to Central Europe. Therefore, if the regional distribution of the Jews inside Europe in 1948 is compared with that in 1939, an enormous reduction in absolute numbers is found everywhere, but the proportions of the various regions had changed greatly. Before the war, Eastern Europe, excluding the U.S.S.R., accounted for one half of European Jewry; by 1948 its share was diminished to less than a quarter, while the Jews in the U.S.S.R. constituted one half of all European Jews. Contributory causes for this development were the enlargement of the area of the U.S.S.R. after World War II and the departure of Displaced Persons from the other East European states; but the essential cause was the differential loss of life during the Shoah, when a much larger part of the Jews was

Table 3.Jewish Populations in Europe, 19391945 (in thousands) Table 3.
Jewish Populations in Europe, 1939–1945 (in thousands)

Country 1939 1945 Percent Change
a Including territory in Asia.
b Including Bessarabia/Moldavia.
c Including Albania.
d Territory in Europe only.
e Including Gibraltar.
f Including Luxembourg.
g Including Ireland.
h Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland.
Eastern Europe and Balkans
Estonia 5 } 66 } −74
Latvia 95
Lithuania 155
Byelorussia 375 147 −61
Russiaa 903 860 −5
Ukraineb 1,863 916 −51
Poland 3,225 100 −97
Czechoslovakia 357 42 −88
Hungary 404 180 −55
Romania 520 430 −17
Bulgaria 50 45 −10
Yugoslaviac 75 12 −84
Greece 75 8 −89
Turkeyd 50 50 =
Western Europe
Portugal, Spaine 6 9 +50
France 320 180 −44
Italy 47 29 −38
Switzerland 19 25 +31
Austria 60 7 −88
Germany 195 45 −77
Belgiumf 93 32 −66
Netherlands 141 33 −77
United Kingdomg 345 350 +1
Scandinaviah 17 24 +41
Displaced persons 107 210 +96

spared in Russia than in the rest of Eastern Europe. Also the proportion of Jews in Western and Central Europe among all Jews of that continent was higher in 1948 (about a third) than in 1939 (about 20%). This happened, among other things, because the Jews in England had remained safe and because of the influx of Displaced Persons.

As against the great drop in the share of European Jewry, the proportion of American Jewry rose from one third of world Jewry in 1939 to one half in 1948, and that of Asia including Palestine rose from 6 to 11%. There had been some immigration of Jews into these continents during the intervening years, but this was only a secondary factor in producing the marked changes in the respective proportions.

The direct outcome of the Shoah was the physical destruction of the majority of the Jews who had lived in Europe. Soon after the war came to an end, the vivid memory of the horrors, the renewed hostility of the non-Jews in some countries and, on the other hand, the creation of the State of Israel produced mass emigration of the survivors from Europe (see *Migration). The demographic aftereffects of the Shoah – particularly, distortions in the age and sex composition of the survivors – are conspicuous up to the present and will make themselves felt for a considerable time to come, not only in Europe, but also among those Jewish Diaspora populations elsewhere that have absorbed survivors from Europe. It has been estimated that if the expected growth of the generations that were destroyed and of those that were not born are factored in, the cumulative demographic impact of the Shoah might have ranged between 12 and 18 million lost people around the year 2000.

1948 TO 1970

After World War II, the statistical documentation available on the Jewish Diaspora based on official state sources greatly diminished. Before the War, the majority of world Jewry lived in countries (mainly in Europe) where official statistics furnished copious data on Jews. Now the situation was reversed: putting aside the State of Israel, over 70% of Diaspora Jews lived in countries without any official statistics on Jews, mainly in the United States. Besides, great conceptual problems emerged because of the growing frequency of "marginal Jews." On the other hand, over the years Jewish-sponsored efforts at collecting statistical information on Jewish populations produced a significant database for the study of Jewish demography (see *Vital Statistics). Under these circumstances, the quality of Jewish population estimates in many countries is unsatisfactory.

Since World War II, no assessment of Jewish demographic trends is possible without explaining what the data mean, particularly the statistical definition of "who is a Jew." The figures reported here usually relate to the concept of core Jewish population, i.e. all those who, when asked, identify themselves as Jews; or, if the respondent is a different person in the same household, are identified by him/her as Jews. This is an intentionally comprehensive approach, reflecting both subjective feelings and community norms and bonds. The definition is admittedly looser in the Diaspora than in Israel where personal status is subject to the ruling of the Ministry of the Interior. The core Jewish population broadly overlaps but does not necessarily coincide with the halakhic (rabbinic) definition of a Jew as someone who is the child of a Jewish mother or converted by appropriate religious and legal procedure. Inclusion in the core Jewish population does not depend on any measure of a person's Jewish commitment or behavior in terms of religiosity, beliefs, knowledge, communal affiliation, or otherwise. The core Jewish population includes all those who converted to Judaism, or decided to join the Jewish group informally and declare themselves Jewish. It excludes those of Jewish descent who have formally adopted another religion, as well as other individuals who did not convert out but currently refuse to recognize their Jewishness.

Concurrently, the concept of an enlarged Jewish population includes the sum of (a) the core Jewish population, (b) all other persons Jewish by birth or parentage who do not currently identify as Jews, and (c) all the respective non-Jewish household members (spouses, children, etc.). The enlarged Jewish population is by definition significantly larger than the core population.

The *Law of Return – Israel's distinctive legal framework for the eligibility and absorption of new immigrants – further extends its provisions to all current Jews, their Jewish or non-Jewish spouses, children, and grandchildren, and the respective spouses. As a result of its three-generation time perspective and lateral extension, the Law of Return applies to a much wider population than core and enlarged Jewish populations alike. The Law of Return, per se, does not effect a person's Jewish status, which, as noted, is adjudicated by Israel's Ministry of the Interior or rabbinical authorities. In practice, while the Law of Return defines objective, clear-cut normative rules for the attribution of certain rights and prerogatives, the initiative for being entitled to its provisions normally stems from people's subjective, individual awareness of belonging (directly or indirectly) to the Jewish collective. In Germany, since the 1990s, legislation similar to the principles of the Law of Return regulates the eligibility of Jewish immigrants.

The period from 1948 onward began during the "baby boom" of early postwar years; however, it was soon followed by a renewed decline in Jewish birth rates in Europe, America, and other Western countries. Jewish populations in Europe about which there is any statistical documentation reached a state of demographic stagnation and decline, with deaths consistently outnumbering births and additional losses to the Jewish population being occasioned by "withdrawals," whether in connection with frequent intermarriages or not. In the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and Australia, the only source of any Jewish population growth was international migration, but eventually in some cases this was insufficient to compensate for the deficit of internal demographic changes (see *Vital Statistics). Though there has been persistent natural increase in Israel, changes in the overall size of the Jewish world population have been rather limited.

Very conspicuous geographical shifts in the world Jewish population occurred over the years 1948–70. Throughout the period, the Jews in America accounted for about half of world Jewry. Nine-tenths of them resided in North America. But there were marked changes in the relative shares of other regions among world Jewry. The proportion of European Jews continued to decline from about a third of all Jews in 1948 to a quarter in 1970. It would have declined even somewhat further, were it not for an influx from North Africa. The relative share of Eastern Europe excluding the U.S.S.R. dropped both among total Jews in Europe (from more than 20 to less than 10%) and among world Jewry (from 7 to 2%). Throughout this period, the Jews in the European territories of the U.S.S.R. were one half or more of all Jews residing in Europe. The aggregate number and proportion of the Jews in other countries of Europe, i.e., mainly in the west and center of that continent, were first reduced by departures of Displaced Persons and others, most of whom went to Israel. But subsequently they were raised by intermittent immigration from countries of Eastern Europe and North Africa and the Middle East.

The proportion of Jews in North Africa and, consequently, in the whole of Africa, dropped drastically during 1948–70 (North Africa, from 5.5 to 0.5% of world Jewry). This was due to large-scale emigration from the Maghreb and other Arabic-speaking states. The emigrants went mainly to Israel and in the second place to France. The drain started after Israel's War of Independence (1948) and had come near to emptying North Africa of its once numerous Jewish population by the Six-Day War period (1967). A notable episode was the exodus of over 100,000 Jews from Algeria to France, together with the European population, in 1961–62.

Similarly, the share of Asia, excluding Israel and the Asian territories of the U.S.S.R., dropped from 3 to 1% of world Jewry during 1948–70. Most of the respective Jews had resided in Arabic-speaking countries; nearly all of them moved to Israel in a spectacular mass migration soon after the foundation of the new state.

On the other hand, the total share of Asia among world Jewry doubled from 1948 (11.5%) to 1967 (21.5%). This resulted essentially from the rapid growth of the Jewish population in Israel from 650,000 in May 1948 to almost 2,400,000 by the end of 1970. The number of Jews in the Asian territories of the U.S.S.R. also increased somewhat.

In all but one of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, the number of Jews was very much smaller in 1970 than in 1939. This was due, of course, to the successive effects of the Shoah and of emigration. The most glaring instance in this respect is that of Poland, with 3,250,000 and only about 25,000 Jews, respectively (the latter figure relates to the reduced postwar territory). The one country in that region with a relatively smaller diminution in the number of Jews is the U.S.S.R., whose territory was only partly occupied by the Nazis during World War II and much enlarged after the war and where emigration is barred. The number of Jews in the European part of the U.S.S.R. amounted to 1,900,000 in 1959, according to the official census of that year. This number is probably below the actual figure, but there is no alternative statistical figure in existence. With regard to the 1939 figures in Table 2, those for Germany and Austria (at that time a German province) already showed the effects of Nazi rule: there were half a million Jews in Germany in 1933 and 190,000 in Austria in 1934. The number of Jews in 1939 on the enlarged post-World War II territory of the U.S.S.R. in Europe may be estimated at more than 4½ million.

In most countries of Western Europe, the number of Jews likewise declined, due to the Shoah and subsequent emigration. But the two notable exceptions are precisely the countries with the largest Jewish populations in that region. The Jews in England did not suffer directly from the Nazi persecutions; on the contrary, their numbers were swelled by the influx of refugees and survivors. The Jews in France did suffer from the Nazis and their number was estimated at only 180,000 in 1946, as compared with 320,000 in 1939. But the wartime losses were more than compensated by successive immigration from two sources: Eastern Europe (Displaced Persons, refugees after the Hungarian uprising of 1956, etc.), and North Africa, particularly Algeria.

As a result of all the demographic changes produced by the differential effects of the Shoah and of the subsequent migrations in the various European countries, a geographical polarization of the Jews in Europe has taken place. The main concentrations are now in the extreme east (the former U.S.S.R.) and in the extreme west (France, England). Over the postwar decades there was an increase in the number of Jews in nearly all countries of America, with the one conspicuous exception of Cuba, and in Oceania. The rise in the estimated Jewish population of the U.S. is shown in Table 4.

The number of Jews in South Africa increased, according to census figures, from 91,000 in 1936 to 115,000 in 1960. On the other hand, the number of Jews in each of the North African countries decreased reflecting the post-War de-colonization process.

Table 5 shows the expansion of the Jewish population in Ereẓ Israel.

The number of Jews in the Asian territories of the U.S.S.R. was, according to the official censuses, about 220,000 in 1939 and 370,000 in 1959. On the other hand, the two Arab countries in Asia with the largest Jewish populations had been Iraq and Yemen. To judge from the subsequent immigration to Israel, in the middle of 1948 there were about 125,000 Jews in Iraq and 50,000 in Yemen and Aden.

1970 TO 2005

Since 1970, significant changes affected the geographical distribution of world Jewry and the relative weight of communities in different regions of the world. The size of world Jewry at the beginning of 2005 was assessed at 13,034,000 (by the core Jewish population definition). World Jewry constituted 2.04 per 1,000 of the world's total population of 6,396 million. One in about 490 people in the world was a Jew. World Jewry's overall increase from 1970 through 2005 was about 3% (or 0.06% a year), as against an increase of over 70% in total world population (about 1.5% yearly). Significantly, Jewish zero population growth worldwide was the product of two entirely different trends compensating each other. The State of Israel and the rest of the world – or the Diaspora – are the two typological components of a contemporary.

Table 4.Jewish Population in the United States of America, 17902005 Table 4.
Jewish Population in the United States of America, 1790–2005

Year Jews Total US % Jews
1790 1,500 4,000,000 0.04
1820 3,000 11,000,000 0.03
1830 6,000 15,000,000 0.04
1850 50,000 24,000,000 0.21
1860 150,000 30,000,000 0.50
1880 250,000 46,353,000 0.54
1890 400,000 59,974,000 0.67
1900 1,058,000 71,592,000 1.48
1910 1,777,000 85,817,000 2.07
1920 3,389,000 103,266,000 3.28
1930 4,228,000 119,038,000 3.55
1940 4,771,000 140,000,000 3.41
1950 5,000,000 157,813,000 3.17
1960 5,300,000 186,158,000 2.85
1970 5,400,000 210,111,000 2.57
1980 5,500,000 230,406,000 2.39
1990 5,515,000 254,776,000 2.16
2000 5,300,000 281,422,000 1.88
2005 5,280,000 293,600,000 1.80

Table 5.Jewish Population of Erez Israel, 18562005 Table 5.
Jewish Population of Erez Israel, 1856–2005

Year Jews
1800 7,000
1856 10,000
1882 24,000
1895 47,000
1914 94,000
1922 84,000
1931 175,000
1947 630,000
1950 1,203,000
1960 1,911,000
1967 2,374,000
1975 2,979,000
1985 3,517,000
1995 4,522,000
2000 4,955,000
2005 5,238,000

world Jewish population that responds to two quite contrasting, if not conflicting, sets of demographic determinants and consequences. The Israeli component, approaching 40% of the world total in 2005, operates as the majority within its own sovereign state. The Diaspora, about 60% of world Jewry, consists of a large number of communities of different absolute sizes, each constituting a very small to minuscule share of the total population of the respective country.

In synthesis, Israel's Jewish population grew by more than two million between 1945 and 1970, and by another 2.6 million between 1970 and 2005. Diaspora Jewry diminished by about 400,000 between 1945 and 1970, and declined by another 2.3 million between 1970 and 2005. These changes reflect in part the net transfer of over 2.2 million Jewish migrants from the Diaspora to Israel over the whole period since World War II, including about one million since 1970. A substantial contribution to total population changes, however, comes from a very different balance of Jewish births and deaths, as well as to a different impact of accessions and secessions. Especially since the 1970s, these factors produced further substantial population increases in Israel, and visible declines in the aggregate of other Jewish communities.

Trends to growth, stability, or decline in the major Jewish communities were quite variable. The Jewish population in the United States increased by an estimated 100,000 between 1970 and 1990, from 5.4 to 5.5 million, less than might have been expected considering the total amount of known Jewish immigration to the U.S. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of U.S. Jews should have increased by an additional 200,000 only due to international migration. Instead, two new surveys undertaken in 2001, the NJPS and the AJIS, found a total of 5,200,000–5,350,000 or 150,000 to 300,000 less than in 1990. Substantial numbers of Jews did move to North America from the FSU, Israel, Latin America, South Africa, Iran, and other countries, but the internal interplay of demographic, social, and cultural forces balanced out much of the expected population increase and actually created a deficit.

The about 13 million Jews estimated worldwide at the dawn of the 21st century were intimately connected to several more millions of people. Some of the latter had Jewish origins or family connections but were not currently Jewish, whether because they changed their own identification, were the non-Jewish children of intermarried parents, or were non-Jewish members in intermarried households. These non-Jews shared the daily life experience, social and economic concerns, and cultural environment of their Jewish mates. The following examples indicate the extent of variation of core and enlarged Jewish populations in selected countries. The criteria followed in the ensuing comparison were not the same in each place.

In the Russian Republic in 2001, the Jewish population was estimated at 275,000 and the enlarged population including all non-Jewish members in the respective households was estimated at 520,000 – a difference of 89 percent. In the U.S. in 2001, based on two different surveys, a core Jewish population of 5,300,000 was part of an enlarged population estimated at 8.8 to 10 million – a difference of 69 to 89 percent. In the Netherlands, a 2000 survey found 30,000 Jews by matrilineal descent and another 13,000 by patrilineal descent – a 43 percent difference. In Brazil, according to the 1991 census, the reported Jewish population of 86,000 was part of an enlarged population of 117,000 in Jewish households – a difference of 36 percent. In France, according to a 2002 survey, 500,000 Jews had at least another 75,000 non-Jewish household members – a 15 percent difference. In Israel at the end of 2001, 5,025,000 Jews were accompanied by 275,000 non-Jewish family members, mostly in families that had immigrated from the F.S.U. – a difference of 5 percent. The gap between the numbers of individuals covered by the enlarged and core Jewish population definitions tended to increase in connection with growing rates of out-marriage. In some cases an increase in the enlarged population could be noted along with reduction of the respective core.

Recently, instances of accession or "return" to Judaism can be observed in connection with the absorption in Israel of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Ethiopia, and the comprehensive provisions of the Israeli Law of Return. The return or first-time access to Judaism of some of such previously unincluded or unidentified individuals contributed to slowing down the pace of decline of the relevant Diaspora Jewish populations and some gains for the Jewish population in Israel.

Table 6 gives an overall picture of Jewish population country by country for the beginning of 2005 as compared to 1970. The number of Jews in Israel rose from 2,582,000 in 1970 to 5,237,600 at the beginning of 2005, an increase of 2,655,600 people, or 102.9 percent (more than double the initial population). In contrast the estimated Jewish population in the Diaspora diminished from 10,063,200 to 7,796,500 – a decrease of 2,266,700 people, or 22.5 percent. These changes reflect the continuing Jewish emigration from the Former U.S.S.R. (FSU) and other countries, but also the internal decrease typical of the aggregate of Diaspora Jewry. While it took 13 years to add one million to world Jewry's postwar size, over 46 years were needed to add another million. The data also outline the slow Jewish population growth rate versus total population growth globally, and the declining Jewish share of world population. In 2005 the share of Jews per 1,000 world population was less than half what it was in 1945.

Table 6.World Jewish Population, 1970 and 2005a Table 6.
World Jewish Population, 1970 and 2005a

Country 1970 2005 Change%
World Total 12,642,300 13,034,100 3.1
Americas, total 6,199,800 6,049,500 −2.4
North America 5,686,000 5,652,000 −0.6
Canada 2,86,000 3,72,000 30.1
United States 5,40,000 5,280,000 −2.2
Central America 46,800 51,900 10.9
Bahamas 300 300 0.0

Demography

Demography

a Core Jewish population definition. See text.
b Including Monaco.
c In 1970: West Germany 28500; East Germany 1500.
d Including areas in Asia.
e Of which in 2005: Bosnia-Herzegovina 300; Croatia 1300; Macedonia 100; Serbia-Montenegro 1500; Slovenia 100.
f Including Hong Kong.
g Including other.
Costa Rica 1,500 2,500 66.7
Cuba 1,700 600 −64.7
Dominican Republic 350 100 −71.4
Guatemala 1,900 900 −52.6
Jamaica 600 300 −50.0
Mexico 35,000 39,800 13.7
Netherlands Antilles 700 200 −71.4
Panama 2,000 5,000 150.0
Puerto Rico 1,200 1,500 25.0
Virgin Islands 200 300 50.0
Other 1,350 400 −70.4
South America 467,000 345,600 −26.0
Argentina 282,000 185,000 −34.4
Bolivia 2,000 500 −75.0
Brazil 90,000 96,700 7.4
Chile 30,000 20,800 −30.7
Colombia 10,000 3,300 −67.0
Ecuador 2,000 900 −55.0
Paraguay 1,200 900 −25.0
Peru 5,300 2,300 −56.6
Suriname 500 200 −60.0
Uruguay 32,000 19,500 −39.1
Venezuela 12,000 15,500 29.2
Europe, total 3,241,200 1,519,600 −53.1
European Union 1,097,450 1,015,200 −7.5
Austria 8,000 9,000 12.5
Belgium 32,500 31,200 −4.0
Denmark 6,000 6,400 6.7
Finland 1,450 1,100 −24.1
Franceb 530,000 494,000 −6.8
Germanyc 30,000 115,000 283.3
Greece 6,500 4,500 −30.8
Ireland 5,400 1,200 −77.8
Italy 32,000 28,700 −10.3
Luxembourg 1,000 600 −40.0
Netherlands 30,000 30,000 0.0
Portugal 600 500 −16.7
Spain 9,000 12,000 33.3
Sweden 15,000 15,000 0.0
United Kingdom 390,000 297,000 −23.8
Other West Europe 21,450 19,800 −7.7
Gibraltar 600 600 0.0
Norway 750 1,200 60.0
Switzerland 20,000 17900 −10.5
Other 100 100 0.0
Former USSR (Europe) 1,906,000 359,500 −81.1
Belarus 148,000 21,000 −85.8
Estonia 5,300 1,900 −64.2
Latvia 36,700 9,500 −74.1
Lithuania 23,600 3,300 −86.0
Moldova 98,100 4,800 −95.1
Russiad 816,700 235,000 −71.2
Ukraine 777,400 84,000 −89.2
Other East Europe, Balkans 216,300 94,100 −56.5
Bulgaria 7,000 2,100 −70.0
Czech Republic 7,000 4,000 −42.9
Hungary 70,000 49,900 −28.7
Poland 9,000 3,300 −63.3
Romania 70,000 10,300 −85.3
Slovakia 7,000 2,700 −61.4
Turkeyd 39,000 17,900 −54.1
Former Yugoslaviae 7,000 3,900 −44.3
Other 300 0 −100.0
Asia, total 2,944,200 5,277,100 79.2
Israel 2,582,000 5,237,600 102.9
Former USSR (Asia) 261,900 20,300 −92.0
Armenia 1,000 0 −100.0
Azerbaijan 49,100 7,000 −85.7
Georgia 55,400 3,600 −93.5
Kazakhstan 27,700 3,800 −86.3
Kirghizstan 7,700 600 −92.2
Tajikistan 14,600 0 −100.0
Turkmenistan 3,500 300 −91.4
Uzbekistan 103,100 5,000 −95.2
Other Asia 100,300 19,200 −80.9
Chinaf 200 1,000 400.0
India 15,000 5,100 −66.0
Iran 72,000 10,800 −85.0
Iraq 2,500 0 −100.0
Japan 500 1,000 100.0
Philippines 500 100 −80.0
Singapore 600 300 −50.0
Syria 4,000 100 −97.5
Thailand 100 200 100.0
Yemen 500 200 −60.0
Other 4,400 400 −90.9
Africa, total 207,100 78,800 −62.0
North Africa 82,600 4,800 −94.2
Egypt 1,000 100 −90.0
Ethiopia 25,000 100 −99.6
Morocco 45,000 3,500 92.2
Tunisia 10,000 1,100 −89.0
Other 1,600 0 −100.0
Other Africa 124,500 74,000 −40.6
Kenya 200 400 100.0
South Africa 118,000 72,500 −38.6
Zaire 300 100 −66.7
Zimbabwe 5,200 400 −92.3
Other 800 600 −25.0
Oceania, totalg 70,000 109,100 55.9
Australia 65,000 102,000 56.9
New Zealand 5,000 7,000 40.0

In 2005, over 47 percent of the world's Jews resided in the Americas, with over 43 percent in North America. Over 40 percent lived in Asia, including the Asian republics of the F.S.U. (but not the Asian parts of the Russian Republic and Turkey) – most of them in Israel. Europe, including the Asian territories of the Russian Republic and Turkey, accounted for about 12 percent of the total. Fewer than 2 percent of the world's Jews lived in Africa and Oceania.

Comparing the 2005 and 1970 Jewish geographical distributions, North America remained nearly unchanged, with some losses in the United States – mostly due to identificational assimilation – compensated by growth in Canada – mostly due to immigration. Communities in Central America had an overall increase of about 11 percent – mostly in Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica, whereas other smaller communities diminished quite significantly. In South America there was an overall decrease of 26 percent. All countries registered a smaller Jewish population in 2005, most notably Argentina with a decrease of 34 percent. The exceptions were Brazil and Venezuela both of which, however, were past their peak and were experiencing some recent population attrition.

In Europe, the main event was the return of continental majority to Western European Jewish communities, after several centuries of East European predominance. The main determinant of such epochal change was the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the massive Jewish emigration that started in December 1989. Among the 15 countries of the European Union (before the enlargement of 2004 to 25 countries), between 1970 and 2005 Jewish population increased by 7.5 percent. This reflected very unequal patterns of change. Germany after reunification in 1991 experienced the most dramatic pace of growth of any Jewish community worldwide, increasing by 283 percent (nearly four times the initial size). Other communities in the EU and other Western European countries with some Jewish population increase included Austria, Denmark, Spain, and Norway. All other western countries experienced Jewish population decreases, most notably the United Kingdom with a decrease of 24 percent, and France with a 7 percent loss.

The European former Soviet republics lost overall 81 percent of their initial Jewish population in 1970. Decreases were most dramatic in Moldova (−95 percent), Ukraine (−89 percent), Lithuania (−86 percent), and Belarus (−86 percent), and somewhat less dramatic in Latvia (−74 percent), Russia (−71 percent), and Estonia (−64 percent). The Asian former Soviet republics lost overall 92 percent of their initial Jewish population. The most resilient community was in Azerbaijan, which nonetheless lost 83 percent of its Jewish population.

In other East European and Balkan countries, the Jewish population decreased overall by 56 percent, ranging between Hungary (−29 percent) and Romania (−85 percent).

The total Jewish population in Asia grew by 80 percent between 1970 and 2005, but this was due to Israel's more than doubling its Jewish population, and the rest of the continent's Jews (including the former Soviet republics) shrinking by 89 percent. In Central and Eastern Asia, the main change was a decline by 85 percent in the size of the Jewish community in Iran. Small Jewish communities tended to become established and expand in rapidly growing economic powers such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

In Africa, the total Jewish population diminished by 62 percent – 94 percent in North Africa (including Ethiopia), and 41 percent in Southern Africa, respectively. Finally, in Oceania the Jewish population increased by 56 percent – 57 percent in Australia and 40 percent in New Zealand, respectively.

In the course of time, Jewish population has become overwhelmingly concentrated in a relatively small number of countries. In 2005 two countries dominate the geography of world Jewry: the United States with about 5,280,000 core Jewish population, and the State of Israel with 5,235,000 (each accounting for about 40 percent of the world total). The remaining two and a half million Jews (20 percent), were highly dispersed. Four countries alone include more than one half of total non-U.S. and non-Israeli Jews: France (with an estimated 496,000 Jews in 2005), followed by Canada (372,000), the United Kingdom (297,000), and the Russian Republic (235,000). Further important Jewish communities lived in Argentina (estimated at 185,000 in 2005), Germany (115,000 in 1996), Australia (102,000), Brazil (97,000), Ukraine (84,000), and South Africa (73,000). Jewish populations of at least 100 existed in 93 countries.

To further understand the logic of the changes in geographical distribution in the course of the last quarter of a century, the main aspects of the intensive and manifold relationship that exists between Jewish communities and contemporary society at large deserve closer scrutiny. The Jewish presence – as expressed in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total population – appears to be strongly related to major social and economic indicators of the world regions, individual countries, provinces, cities, and neighborhoods where they live. Jews simply do not move and redistribute at random, but their mobility patterns reflect the inherent attraction or repulsion of the main instrumental forces that operate in society at large.

During the early 2000s, 92 percent of the Jews globally lived in the highest ranked quintile of countries including most western nations and the state of Israel, 6.5 percent lived in the second best quintile of countries, whereas only 1.5 percent lived in the bottom three-fifths. By the same token, in the 1990s, over 59 percent of Jews in the European Union lived in the best fifth of economic regions, against 1 percent in the bottom fifth; and in 2000, 64 percent of Jews in the United States lived in the top fifth of states, against 1 percent in the bottom fifth. The different concentration of the Jewish presence out of the total population, by level of development of the environment, is thus very consistent and statistically significant, passing from densest in the wealthier and more sophisticated areas to scantiest in the poorest and more backward areas.

Dispersion and Concentration

For many centuries the Jews have been a dispersed people. Yet their dispersion was never uniform; there always developed major centers of Jewish residence with large absolute numbers of Jews and comparatively greater proportions among all Jews and among the respective general population. In this connection, the degree of urbanization of the Jews deserves particular attention. Both dispersion of the Jews and their relative concentration have been much altered in recent generations.

Dispersion of the Jews increased through the changes in geographical distribution produced by emigration from Europe and by the drastic reduction of European Jewry due to the Shoah. The intercontinental distribution of the Jews has undergone periods of growing dispersion and growing concentration. Whereas in 1880 one continent, Europe, accounted for nearly 90 percent of all Jews, during the 1960s the numerically most important continent of Jewish residence, America, contained barely one half of all Jews, while Europe and Asia comprised each more than 20 percent.

In keeping with these changes, the geographical distances involved in the dispersion of the larger Jewish populations increased greatly. Only in the 20th century did the dispersion of the Jews become a virtually global one, with the notable exceptions of East Asia and large parts of Africa. Since the 1970s the tendency of Jews to be regrouped in few countries became again predominant, with 80 percent of world Jewry residing in the United States and in Israel.

Before World War I, the Czarist empire contained 5¼ million Jews (census of 1897), Austria–Hungary, 2¼ million (census of 1910), and the number of Jews in the United States had risen from about 50,000 in 1850 to about 3¼ million at the beginning of the war. The next largest Jewish population in size, Germany, numbered about 600,000 in 1910. After the boundary changes that resulted from World War I, the United States became the country with the largest Jewish population, estimated at 4¼ million in 1927 and at 4¼ million in 1937. The Jews of Poland numbered 3¼ million (estimate for 1939; the census figure of 1931 was 3.1 million) and those in the U.S.S.R., 3 million (1939 census). The next-ranking country was Romania, with about 800,000 Jews in 1939. Germany had about half a million Jews when Hitler came to power, but far fewer on the eve of World War II. All other countries had considerably less than half a million Jews each.

The concentration of the Jews in a limited number of countries expresses itself clearly in the high proportion of the respective Jewish populations among world Jewry.

The concentration in the top group increased since the period before World War II. The three countries that then had more than one million Jews each comprised together 67 percent of world Jewry in 1931, whereas the two countries in that category now comprise over 80%. Moreover, there was and is a tendency for the countries with large populations, in absolute numbers, to also have a comparatively large percentage of Jews in relation to the general population; however, there were and are some exceptions. Before World War II, Poland was the European country with the largest number of Jews and had the highest share of Jews in the general population of all Diaspora countries (about 10 percent). Around 1970, of the ten countries with Jewish populations of 100,000 and over, nine had 0.5 percent or more Jews in their total population. The U.S. had both the largest number of Jews and the largest percentage of Jews among all inhabitants (nearly 3 percent), and the U.S.S.R., especially its European territories, came in next according to the relative frequency of Jews (1–2 percent of the total population).

The number of individual countries with sizable Jewish populations of 50,000 and over rose since the beginning of the modern Jewish migration movement in about 1880. In the last few decades, though, there has been a significant decrease in the number of those countries, as compared with the position prior to World War II, because of the effects of the Shoah and of emigration from Europe and from the Arabic-speaking countries. While in the late 1960s there were 41 countries with at least 5,000 Jews, this had diminished to 36 in 2005, in spite of the significant increase in the number of independent states following the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

Jewish population concentration occurred not only at the global level, but also regionally within countries. This partly reflected the tendency of Jews to congregate in the major cities of the various countries (see Urbanization below). In the Czarist empire, the Jews were largely segregated in the Polish provinces and in the so-called *Pale of Settlement along the western borders of Russia. According to the 1939 census of the Soviet Union, the percentage of Jews among all inhabitants varied in the main regions as follows: total, 1.8; all European Russia, 2:1; Belarus, 6.7; Ukraine, 4.9; rest of European Russia, 0.9; Asian Russia, 0.7. According to the 1959 census of the Soviet Union, three-quarters of the Jews were enumerated in the two most populous republics, the Russian S.F.S.R. and the Ukraine. The highest proportions of Jews in the general population were found in some of the republics lining the western border of the Soviet territory, in the Caucasus region, and in the Uzbek Republic in central Asia (where Bukhara is situated).

In Poland between the two world wars, concentration of the Jews was much heavier in the former Russian and Austrian provinces than in the areas previously belonging to the German empire. In the U.S., there long was a heavy concentration of the Jews in the northeastern region and particularly in New York since the inception of mass immigration. Only in the last few decades has the share of the Pacific region risen somewhat. In both 1937 and 1967, the State of New York accounted for about 45% of the entire Jewish population of the U.S., and the 10 states with the largest number of Jews comprised close to 90% of all Jews of the U.S. but somewhat less than one half of the general population of the U.S. In keeping with the rise of the total number of Jews in the U.S., the respective 10 states all had more than 100,000 Jews in 1967, while only eight did in 1937. On the whole, the respective 10 states were also those with a higher relative frequency of Jews among the general population. In 1937 the overall percentage of the Jews in the U.S. was 3.7 percent of the general population; the 10 states with the largest Jewish populations had each more than 2 percent Jews in their general population (and there were only five more such states); six of the 10 top-ranking states had more than 4 percent Jews in their population. By 1967 the overall share of the Jews in the U.S. had declined to about 2.9 percent, because of the slower growth of the Jews compared with the total population. The 10 states with the largest number of Jews all had at least 1.5 percent Jews among their general population (and there were only four more such states), while in seven of the 10 states the proportion of the Jews amounted to more than 3 percent (see Table 7). By the early 2000s, U.S. Jewry constituted less than 2 percent of total population, and the percent Jewish tended to decline all across the board of U.S. states.

In 2005, reflecting global Jewish population stagnation along with growing concentration in a few countries, 97 percent of world Jewry lived in the largest 15 communities, and, excluding Israel from the count, 96 percent lives in the 14 largest communities of the Diaspora, of which 68 percent were in the United States (see Table 8). There were at least 100 Jews in 93 different countries. Two countries had Jewish populations above 5 million individuals each (the U.S. and Israel), another seven had more than 100,000 Jews, three had 50,000–100,000, five had 25,000–50,000, ten had 10,000–25,000, and nine had 9 had 5,000–10,000. Another 57 countries had less than 5,000 and overall accounted for 1 percent of world Jewry; 22 had 1,000–5,000 Jews, and 35 had less than 1,000.

In only seven communities outside of Israel did Jews constitute at least about 5 per 1,000 (0.5 percent) of their country's total population (see Table 9). In descending order by the relative weight (not size) of their Jewish population they were Gibraltar (24.0 Jews per 1,000 inhabitants), the United States (18.0), Canada (11.7), France (8.2), Uruguay (5.7), Australia (5.1), and the United Kingdom (5.0).

By combining the two criteria of Jewish population size and density, for 2005 we obtain the following taxonomy of the 26 Jewish communities with populations over 10,000 (excluding Israel). There were five countries with over 100,000 Jews and at least 5 Jews per 1,000 of total population: the U.S., France, Canada, the U.K., and Australia; another three countries with over 100,000 Jews and at least 1 per 1,000 of total population: Argentina, Russia, and Germany; one country with 10,000–100,000 Jews and at least 5 per 1,000 of total population:

Table 7.Jewish Population of the United States of America, by Region and State, 19672001a Table 7.
Jewish Population of the United States of America, by Region and State, 1967–2001a

Regions and States Jews Percent distribution Percent of Jews among general population
1967 2001 1967 2001 1967 2001
a Source: American Jewish Year Book. Data include unknown percentages of non-Jewish members of Jewish households, and some amount of duplication of multi residential households.
Total 5,780,000 6,155,000 100.0 100.0 2.9 2.2
NORTHEAST 3,723,700 2,850,000 64.4 46.3 7.7 5.3
New England 397,300 426,000 6.9 6.9 3.5 3.1
thereof: Massachusetts 257,700 275,000 4.5 4.5 4.8 4.3
Connecticut 102,900 111,000 1.8 1.8 3.5 3.2
Middle Atlantic 3,326,400 2,424,000 57.5 39.3 9.0 6.1
thereof: New York 2,520,100 1,657,000 43.6 26.9 13.7 8.7
New Jersey 363,000 485,000 6.3 7.9 5.2 5.7
Pennsylvania 443,300 282,000 7.6 4.6 3.8 2.3
MIDWEST 733,600 706,000 12.7 11.4 1.3 1.1
East North Central 598,400 574,000 10.4 9.3 1.5 1.3
thereof: Ohio 160,600 149,000 2.8 2.4 1.5 1.3
Illinois 283,500 270,000 4.9 4.4 2.6 2.2
West North Central 135,200 132,000 2.3 2.1 0.9 0.7
SOUTH 590,600 1,265,000 10.2 20.6 1.0 1.3
South Atlantic 460,400 1,071,000 8.0 17.4 1.6 2.1
thereof: Maryland 177,100 213,000 3.1 3.5 4.8 4.0
Florida 175,600 620,000 3.0 10.1 2.9 3.9
East South Central 41,400 40,000 0.7 0.6 0.3 0.2
West South Central 88,800 154,000 1.5 2.5 0.5 0.5
thereof: Texas 64,000 131,000 1.1 2.1 0.6 0.6
WEST 731,000 1,334,000 12.7 21.7 2.2 2.1
Mountain 53,100 250,000 0.9 4.1 0.7 1.4
Pacific 678,800 1,084,000 11.8 17.6 2.7 2.4
thereof: California 653,600 999,000 11.3 16.2 3.4 2.9

Uruguay; nine more countries with 10,000–100,000 Jews and at least 1 per 1,000 of total population: Ukraine, South Africa, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Chile, Belarus, Switzerland, and Sweden; and eight countries with 10,000–100,000 Jews and less than 1 per 1,000 of total population: Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Venezuela, Spain, Iran, and Romania.

URBANIZATION

In the traditional countries of Jewish residence in Europe, there was even in the past a strong tendency for the Jews to live in towns. The residential location of the Jews in towns was often imposed by the authorities, but also had strong links with the economic activities of the Jews and with their religious-communal organization. Exceptions existed in some regions of Central Europe, where the Jews had been banned from the towns and settled on the rural estates of the nobility. In Eastern Europe, a considerable proportion of the Jews lived in villages and in townlets very similar to villages. But even there the share of the Jews in the urban and semiurban population was much larger than in the village population. In many of the Islamic countries as well, a high proportion of the Jews used to live in towns.

In the second half of the 19th century, when middle-sized and large towns developed in the economic centers and capital cities of Central and Eastern Europe, the Jews, who by then had obtained civic rights and freedom to settle where they pleased, participated with particular intensity in this urban evolution. Both the absolute and relative frequency of the Jews rose rapidly in the expanding larger towns (except for central Russia, where Jewish residence continued to be virtually barred). On the other hand, there was a drain away from many customary local Jewish communities in small towns and (where applicable) in villages. In the course of time, the out-migration from the smaller localities led to the extinction of an ever increasing number of Jewish communities there, some of them centuries old. In regions of Jewish in-migration – Western Europe, overseas, and, after the Russian Revolution, also central Russia – the Jews tended to settle directly in the main economic centers and capital cities.

In the 20th century, high proportions of the Jews in the world as a whole and in many individual countries are found in large towns and particularly in the very largest towns (with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants), where those exist. The respective proportions are, as a rule, much larger among the Jews than among the non-Jews of the same country. The relative frequency of the Jews is, therefore, greater in the large localities than in smaller ones. All the same, before World War II the countries of Jewish residence could be divided roughly into three groups, according to the degree of urbanization of the Jews:

  1. All but a small percentage of the Jews were town-dwellers in countries of recent immigration in Western Europe, America, and the like.
  2. More than 10 percent of the Jews lived in the small localities of some countries of Central Europe.
  3. In Eastern Europe, the proportion of Jews resident in small localities was about 20 percent or above, e.g., 25 percent in Poland (1931), 31 percent in Romania (1930).

Under very different conditions, the Jews of Ereẓ Israel also fell into this category at that time. There were also some other countries in Asia and Africa where a considerable percentage of the Jews lived in small localities.

Table 8.Largest Jewish Populations, 2005 Table 8.
Largest Jewish Populations, 2005

% of Total Jewish Population
Jewish In the World In the Diaspora
Rank Country Population % Cumulative% % Cumulative%
1 United States 5,280,000 40.5 40.5 67.7 67.7
2 Israel 5,237,600 40.2 80.7 = =
3 France 494,000 3.8 84.5 6.3 74.1
4 Canada 372,000 2.9 87.3 4.8 78.8
5 United Kingdom 297,000 2.3 89.6 3.8 82.6
6 Russia 235,000 1.8 91.4 3.0 85.7
7 Argentina 185,000 1.4 92.8 2.4 88.0
8 Germany 115,000 0.9 93.7 1.5 89.5
9 Australia 102,000 0.8 94.5 1.3 90.8
10 Brazil 96,700 0.7 95.2 1.2 92.1
11 Ukraine 84,000 0.6 95.9 1.1 93.1
12 South Africa 72,500 0.6 96.4 0.9 94.1
13 Hungary 49,900 0.4 96.8 0.6 94.7
14 Mexico 39,800 0.3 97.1 0.5 95.2
15 Belgium 31,200 0.2 97.4 0.4 95.6

Table 9.Distribution of the Worlds Jews, by Number and Proportion per 1,000 Population in Each Country, 2005 Table 9.
Distribution of the World–s Jews, by Number and Proportion per 1,000 Population in Each Country, 2005

Number of Jews per 1,000 Population
Jews in Country Total 0.0–0.9 1.0–4.9 5.0–9.9 10.0–24.9 25.0+
a Grand total includes countries with fewer than 100 Jews, for a total of 1,100 Jews. Minor discrepancies due to rounding. Israel includes West Bank and Gaza.
Number of Countries
Totala 93 62 23 4 3 1
100–900 35 31 3 1
1,000–4,900 22 20 2
5,000–9,900 9 3 6
10,000–24,900 10 5 4 1
25,000–49,900 5 2 3
50,000–99,900 3 1 2
100,000–999,900 7 3 3 1
1,000,000 or more 2 1 1
Jewish Population Distribution (Absolute Numbers)
Totala 13,034,100 304,900 925,400 912,500 5,652,600 5,237,600
100–900 11,000 9,200 1,200 600
1,000–4,900 52,100 46,900 5,200
5,000–9,900 58,800 17,100 41,700
10,000–24,900 160,700 66,500 74,700 19,500
25,000–49,900 179,600 68,500 111,100
50,000–99,900 253,200 96,700 156,500
100,000–999,900 1,800,000 535,000 893,000 372,000
1,000,000 or more 10,517,600 5,280,000 5,237,600
Jewish Population Distribution (Percent Distribution)
Totala 100.0 2.3 7.1 7.0 43.4 40.2
100–900 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
1,000–4,900 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
5,000–9,900 0.5 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
10,000–24,900 1.2 0.5 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
25,000–49,900 1.4 0.5 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.0
50,000–99,900 1.9 0.7 1.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
100,000–999,900 13.8 0.0 4.1 6.9 2.9 0.0
1,000,000 or more 80.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 40.5 40.2

By 1925 Lestschinsky found that 23 percent of all Jews in the world lived in centers of over 1,000,000 inhabitants and 45 percent lived in centers of more than 100,000 inhabitants. Fifty-five percent of all Jews could be estimated to reside in about 166 localities, each comprising at least 10,000 Jews and 29 percent of all Jews in 15 localities having each more than 100,000 Jews. Of the 166 localities listed by Lestschinsky as containing at least 10,000 Jews each in 1925, 22 had a majority of Jewish inhabitants. These places were in Eastern Europe, with the exception of only two in Ereẓ Israel.

In the 1930s, 20 centers were estimated to have over 100,000 Jews. First and foremost among them ranked the uniquely large Jewish agglomeration of Greater New York, which was already estimated at about 2,000,000 persons – an eighth of world Jewry, exceeding the Jewish population of all but two individual countries outside the U.S. (namely Poland and the U.S.S.R.). It was estimated that the Jews formed nearly 30 percent of the total population of Greater New York. At a great interval, the next ranking group of cities had 3–400,000 Jews each: Chicago, Philadelphia, and Warsaw. Altogether, the 20 cities with more than 100,000 Jews each were geographically distributed as follows: Eastern Europe, 7 (5 in U.S.S.R., 2 in Poland); Central Europe, 3; Western Europe, 2; U.S., 6; South America, 1; Palestine, 1. The devastations of the Shoah, in terms of loss of life and uprooting of Jews; the geographical regrouping of the survivors returning to the original countries of residence; the large-scale emigration from Eastern Europe, as well as from Islamic countries – all affected the situation of the Jews with regard to urbanization. Under the new conditions, the previously existing tendency for Jews to congregate in the major towns was further accentuated. The scattered small Jewish communities and splinter groups in townlets and villages of Eastern Europe and of the Arabic-speaking countries virtually disappeared because the Jews flocked to the larger towns of those countries – for economic, cultural, and security reasons – or emigrated altogether. The great majority of the Jews who migrated to countries other than Israel settled directly in major cities, and even Israel provides only a partial exception to this rule.

An official population survey taken in the U.S. in 1957 showed that 96 percent of the (adult) Jews lived in urban localities and no fewer than 87 percent in urbanized areas of more than 250,000 inhabitants, while the corresponding proportions in the general population were only 64 and 37 percent respectively. In the U.S.S.R., according to the 1959 census, 95 percent of the Jews, but only 48 percent of the general population, lived in urban localities. Even in Israel, where 273,000 Jews lived in 705 rural localities in 1967, they constituted only 11 percent of the entire Jewish population, while 89 percent lived in urban localities of more than 2,000 inhabitants and 54 percent in towns of 50,000 and over. Also in virtually all other countries of Jewish residence, there is now a very high degree of urbanization of the Jews.

In 1967, there were 21 cities which (together with their outskirts) contained each more than 100,000 Jews. Greater New York continued to lead this array with an estimated number much above 2 million Jews. Next in size, at a long distance, comes Los Angeles, with 500,000 Jews. Of other towns, only four more had 300,000 Jews or over: Philadelphia, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Tel Aviv. The 21 major towns of Jewish residence were divided as follows according to geographical region: U.S.S.R., 4; Western Europe, 2; North America, 10 (thereof 9 in the U.S.); South America, 1; Israel, 4. In comparison with the distribution prior to World War II, the disappearance of the large Jewish populations in cities of Poland and Central Europe was conspicuous, as was the increased prominence of Israel.

In recent decades, many of the above-mentioned towns extended far beyond their municipal boundaries through the formation of conurbations that combined the main city as well as adjacent towns or suburbs into one continuous metropolitan area. These developments affected the Jewish population no less than the general one. One notable indicator of the sensitivity to global market forces of Jewish population distribution was the overwhelming concentration in major urban areas resulting from intensive international and internal migrations. The extraordinary urbanization of the Jews is evinced by the fact that in 2005, 52 percent of world Jewry lived in only five metropolitan areas – Tel Aviv, New York, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Haifa – and another 25 percent lived in the next 15 largest metropolitan areas (see Table 10). The Jewish population in the Tel Aviv urban conurbation extending from Netanyah to Ashdod (2,707,000)

Table 10.Metropolitan Areas with Largest Core Jewish Populations, 2005 Table 10.
Metropolitan Areas with Largest Core Jewish Populations, 2005

Rank Metro Areaa Country Jewish Share of World–s Jews
Population % Cumulative %
a Most metropolitan areas include extended inhabited territory and several municipal authorities around central city. Definitions vary by country. Some of the estimates may include non-core Jews.
b As newly defined in the 1995 Israeli Census.
c Includes Ramat Gan, Bene Beraq, Petach Tikvah, Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon Lezion, Netanya, and Ashdod, each with a Jewish population above 100,000.
d Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA).
e Revised estimate. Includes the whole Jerusalem District and parts of Judea and Samaria District.
f Miami-Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton CMSA.
g Departments 75,77,78,91,92,93,94, 95.
h Greater London and contiguous postcode areas.
i Census Metropolitan Area.
j Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
k Capital Federal and Gran Buenos Aires Partidos (AMBA).
l Territory administered by city council.
1 Tel Avivb, c Israel 2,707,000 20.8 20.8
2 New Yorkd U.S. 2,051,000 15.7 36.5
3 Los Angelesd U.S. 668,000 5.1 41.6
4 Jerusaleme Israel 660,000 5.1 46.7
5 Haifab Israel 656,000 5.0 51.7
6 Southeast Floridad, f U.S. 498,000 3.8 55.5
7 Be–er Shevab Israel 347,000 2.7 58.2
8 Philadelphiad U.S. 285,000 2.2 60.4
9 Parisg France 284,000 2.2 62.6
10 Chicagod U.S. 265,000 2.0 64.6
11 Bostond U.S. 254,000 1.9 66.6
12 San Franciscod U.S. 218,000 1.7 68.2
13 Londonh United Kingdom 195,000 1.5 69.7
14 Torontoi Canada 180,000 1.4 71.1
15 Washingtonj U.S. 166,000 1.3 72.4
16 Buenos Airesk Argentina 165,000 1.3 73.6
17 Baltimorej U.S. 106,000 0.8 74.5
18 Detroitd U.S. 103,000 0.8 75.2
19 Moscowl Russia 95,000 0.7 76.0
20 Montreali Canada 93,000 0.7 76.7
21 Clevelandd U.S. 86,000 0.7 77.4
22 Atlantaj U.S. 86,000 0.7 78.0

exceeded by far that in the New York Standard Metropolitan Area (2,051,000) extending from New York State to parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Of the 22 largest metropolitan areas of Jewish residence, 12 were located in the U.S. (in descending order New York, Los Angeles, Southeast Florida, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, and Atlanta), four in Israel (the three mentioned plus Beersheba), two in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), and one each in France (Paris), the U.K. (London), Argentina (Buenos Aires), and Russia (Moscow). In these central places of world economic and cultural significance, large numbers of Jews enjoy favorable and perhaps unprecedented standards of living and can bring to fruition high levels of professional specialization.

While these trends augur well for the Jews, and set the stage and expected rules of possible geographical changes in the future, they also portend a substantial amount of dependency of the Jewish minority upon the favorable conditions created by the majority. The new situation is radically different from the one that prevailed during most of modern Jewish history when Jews were tolerated or discriminated against, and often nurtured hopes for societal changes that would benefit their political and social status. Under the more stable and attractive contemporary conditions, Jewish interests tend to increasingly coincide with the established societal order. At the end of a long transformation which brought with it political emancipation and economic achievement, the Jews find themselves in a more conservative mood facing society at large. Under these conditions Jews also face the challenge of more intensive competition with and easy access to alternative, non-Jewish cultures and social networks. At least in the Diaspora, Jewish cultural continuity appears to be a more difficult target precisely where Jews are physically more secure and where socioeconomic achievement is more easily attainable.

To conclude the topic of the residential concentration of the Jews, it must be said that there have been numerous instances of the Jews living more densely in certain areas of a city or conurbation than in others. The ghettos and mellahs of the past were cases in point. In recent generations, the tendency for urban neighborhoods with greater-than-average density of the Jews has responded to religious, organizational, and social requirements of Jewish life in the Diaspora. It has also facilitated the economic absorption of Jewish in-migrants. Whereas in the earlier part of this century there were well-known cases of quarters with many poor Jews in the large towns, the picture has more recently shifted to residential areas, often suburban, preferred by middle-class or well-to-do Jews.

POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS

Age Composition

The age structure of a population depends on several factors. The first is the vital statistics pattern. High or low levels of fertility or mortality, and any changes in these levels, are reflected in the age distribution of populations. A reduction in births leads to a diminished proportion of children in the population. At first, this increases the relative weight of the adults at age groups typical for work and demographic reproduction. But if the birth rate is low over an extended period, a more advanced stage in the process of aging may be reached, when the relative share of elderly and old persons in the population rises considerably. The impact of a sudden rise in mortality, through calamities, is usually differential according to age and, therefore, affects the age structure of the survivors. The Shoah for example carried away relatively more children and old persons than young adults among the afflicted Jews.

In turn, young adults tend to participate in migrations relatively more than children or older people. Therefore it is usual to find that the proportion of young adults goes down in populations with a negative migration balance (i.e., an excess of emigrants over immigrants) and rises in populations with a positive migration balance. Conditions may be different in the rare cases where almost an entire population is transferred from one country to another, as happened with some Diaspora Jewries that were transplanted in Israel in the first years after the establishment of the Jewish state.

Withdrawals from a Jewish population, whether through conversion to another religion or otherwise, can also affect the age structure if the relative frequency of these withdrawals varies at different ages. Accessions to the Jewish group may exercise similar influences in the reverse. As time passes after changes in the age structure were produced by any of the above factors, the effects make themselves felt in ever higher age groups. Twenty-five years after the Shoah, the particularly heavy deficiency of children originally caused by the persecutions was felt in the age groups 25–40 of the survivors.

Since many Jewish populations have been influenced by stringent birth control, the Shoah, massive immigrations or emigrations, withdrawals, etc., their age structure tends to show distortions due to these various factors and to the time intervals at which they exercised their influence.

All Jewish communities throughout history and geography can be described within a common demographic framework by observing their evolving age composition. Notably, changes affecting different communities over time were not synchronic.

In the middle of the 19th century, large proportions of children (aged 0–14) were still found among the Jews all over Europe, where data are available. With the reduction in fertility, a diminution in the proportion of children set in followed after a while by a marked rise in the percentage of elderly persons. As the decline in fertility affected the Jews in various parts of Europe at different times, so did the consequent changes in the age structure. Both developments began and proceeded at earlier dates among the more assimilated Jews of Western and Central Europe than among the great bulk of traditional Jews in the eastern part of the continent. The movement went from west to east, but before the outbreak of World War II its effects were clearly also visible among the Jews of Eastern Europe. Insofar as sufficient statistical documentation is available, the gradual aging of the Jewish population in one country or town can be observed over successive decades. Since the Jews usually preceded the non-Jews, among whom they lived, in the reduction of fertility, they also preceded them with regard to the consequent changes in age structure. Among the Jews of one country, there were frequently differences in the speed of these transitions according to their varying degree of traditionalism or assimilation. This can be seen, in the data of Table 11, through comparison of the Jews in the various provinces of Czechoslovakia in 1930 and of Jews in Polish localities of different sizes in 1931: the Jews

Table 11.Selected Jewish Populations, by Main Age Groups, 18972004 Table 11.
Selected Jewish Populations, by Main Age Groups, 1897–2004

Countrya Year Total 0–14 15–29 30–44 45–64 65+ Median ageb
a Countries sorted by the descending percentage of population at age 0–14. The largest age group in each population is underlined.
b The median divides the population into two equal parts: one half having higher and one half having lower ages than the median age.
Traditional type
Ethiopia 1991 100 51 20 13 11 5 14.7
Syria 1960 100 43 23 12 16 6 19.6
Russian Empire 1897 100 41 28 16 12 3 19.8
Romania 1899 100 40 26 19 12 3 20.8
Transitional type
Poland 1921 100 34 30 16 15 5 23.0
Iran 1976 100 30 28 19 17 6 25.7
USSR 1926 100 29 34 18 15 4 29.4
Mexico 1991 100 24 27 20 22 7 35.0
Venezuela 1998 100 24 19 21 24 12 35.0
USA 1957 100 24 17 21 28 10 36.6
Ageing type
USA 1990 100 19 19 26 19 17 37.6
Prussia 1925 100 18 25 24 25 8 34.4
United Kingdom 1986 100 17 19 19 21 24 41.1
USA 2001 100 16 20 19 26 19 41.5
Italy 1986 100 14 23 18 26 19 40.8
Russian Republic 1959 100 14 19 23 36 9 41.2
Terminal type
Russian Republic 1970 100 10 16 23 31 20 45.5
Yugoslavia 1971 100 10 23 17 29 21 45.0
Russian Republic 1979 100 8 15 21 31 25 49.2
Russian Republic 2002 100 5 11 14 33 37 57.5
Romania 1979 100 5 11 10 34 40 59.1
Israeli type
Palestine 1931 100 33 32 19 11 4 23.0
Israel 1948 100 29 26 26 15 4 27.1
Israel 1961 100 34 22 19 20 5 25.9
Israel 1985 100 30 24 20 16 10 27.5
Israel 2004 100 25 24 19 20 12 30.8

of Carpatho-Ruthenia in Czechoslovakia and the Jews of the smaller localities in Poland, who adhered to a more traditional mode of life in their respective country, had preserved higher percentages of children.

In the 1930s, the great decline in births occurred in the industrialized countries and made itself particularly felt among the Jews (see *Vital Statistics). As a result, the proportion of 0–14 year-olds in the Jewish populations of Central Europe and, where statistical data are available, of Western Europe dropped below 20 percent, while the proportion of the 60 year-olds and over rose considerably above 10 percent. In Eastern Europe aging was less pronounced, though it had slightly risen there too. In the whole of Poland, the relative share of children under 15 among the Jews declined from 34 percent in 1921 to somewhat less than 30 percent in 1931. At the latter date, it was 26 percent among the Jews of Warsaw. In some Diaspora countries that had absorbed considerable Jewish immigration, the proportion of children aged 0–14 among the Jews tended to be about 20 percent in the 1930s or 1940s – though with considerable variations due to the character of each such Jewish population and the year of the respective data. On the other hand, there were still relatively few old persons and consequently a high percentage of adults in the age range 15–59. This can be seen from Jewish community surveys taken at that time in various towns of the U.S. as well as from statistics of the Jews in Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc. Among the Jews of Palestine, the proportion of children remained relatively high, because the presence of many young adult immigrants had raised the birth figures. But owing to decreasing fertility, there also the percentage of the 0–14 year-old children declined.

The ravages of the Shoah were particularly heavy among the children and the elderly. Therefore, immediately after the war, unusually high proportions of young and middle-aged adults were found among the survivors. The deficiency of birth cohorts from about 1930 to 1945 continues to make itself strongly felt among the Jews of Europe. Because many survivors emigrated from Europe, the peculiarities of their age composition have influenced the absorbing Jewish populations, whether in Israel or elsewhere. Besides, smaller populations tend, in general, to have less regular age distributions. The drastic reduction in size of the Jewish groups extant in European countries and, particularly, in individual localities makes in itself for increased age distortions.

Outside Europe, the Jews of European origin did not suffer physical losses from the Shoah. Still, the 1930s and early 1940s were the time of the great slump in Jewish births in America and elsewhere (see *Vital Statistics). The deficiency of the birth cohorts of that time is reflected in the age distributions of the respective Jewish populations to this day. After World War II, the "baby boom" occurred among the Jews in Europe, America, Oceania, and Israel. This rise in births was similar to analogous developments in the industrialized societies of the world, but it was rather short-lived among the Jews. The bulge in the age distribution produced by the increased cohorts born in the second half of the 1940s or around 1950 still clearly appeared in many Jewish populations fifty year later. So were the effects of the subsequent renewed decline in Jewish births which led to a reduction of the child population. For example, in many Jewish populations studied in the 1960s, the 0–4 year-olds were less numerous than the 5–9 and 10–14 year-olds, respectively.

The overall age profile of Jews in Western Europe included fewer young children than adults and, more significantly, than elders in their mid-60s or early 70s. While there are some internal differences within the continent, it is quite an aging Jewish population. The age profile of Jews in the United States and Canada in the 1990s was somewhat younger. The proportion of children and young adults was larger, reflecting the rather large cohorts born during the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s, and the echo effect of the generations born to the baby-boomers during the 1980s and 1990s. But ageing is well visible in the most recent North American data.

The age profile of East European Jewry, largely influenced by the FSU Jewish population, is striking. It points to the consequences for a population of prolonged very low levels of fertility, very high rates of assimilation, and selective emigration of a comparatively higher proportion of younger families, leaving behind a large share of the elderly and the very elderly. East European Jewry has lost most of its demographic basis for the future.

Because of their high fertility, the Jews in Asia and Africa used to have a younger age composition, with a high proportion (40 percent and over) of children aged 0–14 and a rather regular decrease of frequency in successively higher age groups, culminating in a small proportion (less than 5 percent) in ages 65 and over. These features can be seen in the age distributions of the Jews of Morocco and of the immigrants to Israel from Asia and Africa. Most of the Jews from Asia and Africa have left their traditional countries of residence and have settled elsewhere, especially in Israel and France. The lowering of fertility in the new surroundings (see *Vital Statistics) cannot but have its gradual effects on their age structure.

Finally, the age profile of the Jewish population in Israel provides the only example of a demographically balanced Jewish population with a larger basis of children sustaining gradually smaller shares of young adults, mature adults, and elders. This mainly reflects Israel's sustained birth rate, and to a minor extent the continuous influx of a high proportion of young adults among new immigrants.

Sex

In populations sufficiently large for standard biological trends to express themselves, there is a small surplus of males over females among the newborn, but the age-specific mortality rates are usually lower for females and, therefore, a surplus of females is to be expected in the adult population (unless external factors, such as migrations, exert a contrary influence). Where statistical data have been available, these general tendencies have been found to operate among the Jews also. Another widespread tendency is the larger participation of men than women in migrations. In this case, the proportion of males is, by the fact of migration, lowered in the population of origin and raised in the population of destination. Modern Jewish migrations have been less motivated by economic considerations and more by the search for refuge than those of most other nations, and this has reduced the sex differential; but in many cases a larger participation of men has also been found in migrations of Jews.

Jewish populations in the Diaspora are usually small, and this fact operates by itself to create irregularities in the sex age composition. Besides, they have often been strongly influenced by migrations, withdrawals, and the aftereffects of the Shoah. Hence, distortions in the sex-age composition are frequent. For the Jewish population of entire countries, the ratio of males per 1,000 females (irrespective of age) has ranged in recent years from 833 in the U.S.S.R. (1959), where war losses of men were very heavy among the Jews (as among the general population), to more than 1,100 in some other Diaspora countries, e.g., Germany and Austria.

The sex-ratio is particularly significant in the principal ages of marriage, because under modern conditions, when the religious factor has been weakened, this ratio has an influence on the proportions of endogamic Jewish marriages and *intermarriages of Jews, respectively. It must be borne in mind, though, that on the average there is an age difference of several years between grooms and brides. When the ratio of Jewish men aged, say, 25–39 to 1,000 Jewish women aged 20–34 is calculated, marked disparities are found in some countries.

Origin Groups (Edot)

It has been customary to divide the Jewish world population into several groups, called edot ("communities") and distinguished according to a combination of historical, geographic, and linguistic criteria. These groups have somewhat differing liturgical usages. In countries where Jews of several origin groups resided, they sometimes established separate organizational frameworks for the maintenance of synagogues and other religious and communal services. This led to the term edah, or its equivalents in other languages, being sometimes used not from the demographic, but from the organizational viewpoint. There has never been a generally accepted classification of all Jewish origin groups. Yet it is usual to distinguish three main groups:

1. *Ashkenazim, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the Jews in Europe (except for Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and parts of the former Yugoslavia), North and South America, South Africa, and Oceania. In the past, a large proportion of the Ashkenazim were Yiddish-speaking.

2. *Sephardim (in a narrow sense of the term of descendants of Jews from Spain), who were concentrated in Greece, Bulgaria, southern Yugoslavia, and western Turkey and formed a considerable proportion of the Jewish populations in Lebanon and Syria, Egypt and Northwest Africa. Sephardi communities were organized in several Latin American countries. Many of the Sephardim used to speak Ladino.

3. Oriental communities. The further breakdown of this group has varied among different scholars, but the principal divisions are the following:

a) Jews of Arabic-speaking countries, especially Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco. Migrants from these communities created new community centers in France, Latin America (especially Mexico and Venezuela), the United States, and other western countries.

b) Jews of Persia, Afghanistan, and Bukhara, speaking Persian or related languages. Emigrants from Iran created communities in the United States and other western countries.

c) Kurdish Jews, part of whom use an Aramaic dialect.

d) Jews of the Caucasus region. With the massive emigration of Jews from the former U.S.S.R., Jews from the Caucasus resettled in the United States, Germany, and other countries.

e) Indian Jews. These include the Bnei Israel, the Baghdadi community, and the Jews from Kochin.

f) Italian Jews include the descendants of an ancient core of early settlers who reached the south European shores before and during the period of the Roman Empire, long before the notions of Askhenaz and Sepharad had even developed.

g) Ethiopian Jews, including the Beta Israel and the Falashmura community of Jewish ancestry.

More refined divisions are uncertain, because of the smallness and instability of some of the groups distinguished.

These origin groups cannot be thought of as completely separated from one another. Migrations and/or marriages between Jews of different origin often led to transfers of individuals, even between the major divisions. Besides, the linguistic criterion for group affiliation lost much of its importance in recent generations, because of the increased importance of the official languages of the various countries for the respective Jewish populations.

Special difficulties exist with regard to the distinction of Sephardim and Oriental communities. Not all Sephardim were Ladino-speaking even some generations ago. The Sephardim established in Northwest Africa had long since gone over to the use of Arabic. Moreover, there has been a tendency to broaden the concept of Sephardim so as to make it include all Jews who are not Ashkenazim. This has been so both because of the prestige which the name Sephardim commands and because, organizationally, Sephardi institutions have often also comprised the Oriental elements in Jewish populations of mixed origin. About 1930, Ruppin estimated that there were roughly 1,300,000 Sephardim and Oriental Jews, constituting 8% of world Jewry. In the past, the proportion of this group was greater, but went down in the 19th and early 20th centuries because of the higher natural increase of the Ashkenazim, i.e., the European Jews, at that time. Of the 1,300,000 Sephardim and Oriental Jews in 1930, two thirds lived in Asia and Africa, but only 3% in Ereẓ Israel. Since then, the absolute and relative number of Sephardim and Oriental communities within Jewry has been altered. Around 2000, they were estimated at 3,400,000 or about 26 percent of all Jews. The increase in their proportion is due to the reduced number of Ashkenazim after the Shoah and to their own high natural increase during the last few decades, which recently greatly exceeded that of the Ashkenazim.

The geographical distribution of most origin groups changed completely. Two thirds of the Ashkenazim in 1930, but only about 30 percent in 1967 and 14 percent in 2000, lived in Europe. On the other hand, the share of America among the Ashkenazim rose over the same time interval from a third in 1930 to about 60 percent in 1967 and the same in 2000, and that of Ereẓ Israel from less than 1 percent in 1930 to about 10 percent in 1967 and 26 percent in 2000. Of the Ladino-speaking Sephardim, a small number remained in only one of their traditional countries of residence, Turkey. Most of the other Ladino-speaking Sephardim either perished in the Shoah (Greece, Yugoslavia) or moved to Israel (particularly those of Bulgaria). Of the Jews of the Arabic-speaking countries, nearly all those who lived in Asia and a great part of those from North Africa found new homes in Israel. Israel has also attracted many Jews from Turkey, Iran, India, etc. Around 2000, about two-thirds of all Sephardim and Oriental Jews were in-gathered in Israel, another large section moved to France, the rest were scattered over many countries in all continents. Some of the Oriental groups transferred almost in their entirety to Israel, e.g., Yemenites, "Babylonians" (i.e., from central and southern Iraq), the Kurdish Jews, several groups from Syria, the Libyan Jews.

While the division into the traditional origin groups reflected the geographical-cultural plurality of world Jewry before the upheavals and mass migrations of recent decades, its present value for indicating demographic differences other than mere origin is rapidly disappearing. The Sephardim of the Balkan countries showed in the recent past the same demographic patterns characteristic of European populations. Most Oriental Jews after moving to Israel and France, respectively, were exposed to the rapidly modifying influences of the respective surroundings. Israel in particular provided the meeting ground of Jews of all origin groups. The life in common there and many intergroup marriages rapidly reduced and eventually annulled any previously existing demographic differences between the various origin groups. Factors other than mere origin, such as education, occupation, and place of residence, became increasingly important for differentiation in demographic behavior in a context of general convergence. The growing impact of out-marriage and assimilation further reduced the impact of edot on contemporary Jewish demography. Nonetheless, the relevance of separate traditions and community organizations continued to play a significant role in the patterns of Jewish identification among contemporary Jewry.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

U.O. Schmelz, in: AJYB, 70 (1969), 273–88; U.O. Schmelz and P. Glikson, Jewish Population Studies, 1961–1968 (1970); AJYB (1899– ); A. Ruppin, in: L. Finkelstein (ed.), Jewish People Past and Present, 1 (1946), 348–60; idem, Soziologie der Juden, 1 (1930); H.S. Halevi, Hashpa'at Milḥemet ha-Olam ha-Sheniyyah al ha-Tekhunot ha-Demografiyyot shel Am Yisrael (1963), Eng. introd. and summ.; J. Lestschinsky, in: Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, 30 (1929), 123–365. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Bachi, The Population of Israel (1976); S. DellaPergola, in: Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 10:1 (1996), 34–51; idem, World Jewry Beyond 2000: The Demographic Prospects (1999); idem, in: Pe'amim, 93 (2002), 149–56; idem, in: AJYB, 105 (2005); S. DellaPergola, U. Rebhun, and M. Tolts, in: Israel Studies, 10:1 (2005), 61–95; M. Tolts, in: Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe, 1 (52), 37–63.

[Usiel Oscar Schmelz /

Sergio DellaPergola (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.