Israel demographic update 2011

The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics has updated data about the demographics of the country. The last numbers go up to October 2011. And they give an very interesting picture.

As many people know already, in the last decade the Jewish fertility went up while the Arab one went south and the gap that was over 2 children per women in 2000 was in 2010 around 0.5. Jewish women in 2010 had in average 3 children per women while Israeli Arab women had 3.5. Since 1996 when I made aliyah the number of Jewish births increased by 50% while the numbers of Arab births increased by just 10% – and even less if we believe the new figures for 2011.

The 2011 data shows that the down trend is accelerating among Arabs. The decrease in absolute numbers is close to 5% in the first 10 months of the year and Arab births in 2011 should be less than 23% – against 30% in 2000. On the same time, the Jewish natality is stable this year.

A few comments: even if the high Jewish fertility rate is a consequence of the very high fertility of haredim (over 6) and religious (over 4) – the non religious fertility is still very high by Western standards – around 2.3. In Europe, muslim and African immigrants included, the fertility rate is around 1.5 and the population is already starting to fall.

The Israeli Arab fertility rate also combines very different population: Christians who are close to European levels (2.1 in 2010), Druzes who are on the way (2.6), non- Bedouin Muslims (around 3), and Bedouins (around 5). It is interesting to note that all the decrease in natality in 2011 comes from the Muslims (the updated data does not separate Bedouins and others).

The other thing is that if the trend continues, and there is no reason that it should not as this is exactly what has been happening among Arabs all over the Middle-East, Jewish fertility will be higher than Israeli Arabs fertility around 2015. The Jewish fertility is already higher than the majority of Middle-East countries today. Regarding the Palestinians, there is the known issue of the real numbers as the official data from the Palestinian CBS is obviously cooked and just a tool for propaganda. Some estimates that the fertility rate in Judea and Samaria is already lower than among Israeli Arabs.

The overall point is very clear – Israel is winning the demographic war. There is no demographic threat on the long run, not inside Israel and not in the territories. So this should not be used any more as an argument.

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