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August 20, 2018

Total Fertility Trends in Israel

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Total Fertility Trends in Israel:Total Fertility Trends in Israel: How did the Demographic Time Bomb become a Demographic Miracle? Summary Researchers and policy makers periodically air the claim that the Arab population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is growing at a rate double to that of the Jewish population, a fact that will, in the near future, lead to the negation of the Jewish majority. This concern, known as the “demographic time bomb”, stands at the heart of a dispute among different demographists and arouses an intense argument in Israeli academic and public discourse. The objective of this paper is to construct an accurate picture of the demographic reality in Israel and to assess the true dimensions of the demographic threat.As is well known, two mechanisms determine the size of a population: life expectancy at different ages and the rate of fertility.  In this paper, we examined the trend of the total fertility rate among population groups living in Israel according to nationality, religion and different settlement regions over a range of periods. Furthermore, we compared this trend with the development of the total worldwide fertility rate and of the populations of different countries in the Middle East. An analysis of the data gathered revealed both trends of growth among the Jewish and Arab populations during the last 60 years and expectations for the future. A summary of the main findings is presented below:

• At the beginning of the 21st century, a turnaround was registered in the fertility level of the Jewish population: Total Jewish fertility had previously declined for 45 years, from the beginning of the 1960s until the end of the century. Until 1995, the total fertility rate among Jews in Israel was the lowest of all Middle Eastern countries and significantly lower than the total fertility rate among the Arab population living in Israel. However, the total Jewish fertility rate began to rise rapidly from 2001, reaching 3.16 children per woman in 2016. This figure was higher than the total fertility rate in 10 of the 15 Middle Eastern countries surveyed and higher than the total fertility rate of the Arab population in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. In only 4 countries in the Middle East – Iraq (4.06), Yemen (3.77), Egypt (3.30), Jordan (3.18) and in the Gaza Strip (3.91 or 4.30 depending on the estimation of the US Census Bureau) – was the total Arab fertility rate higher than that of the Jews in Israel. Read More

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