Israel by Numbers, in 5774: Getting Older, Staying Single, Heading for the Hills

Central Bureau of Statistics shows men’s life expectancy topping 80 years for first time; population hits 8,252,500.

Pavel Tolchinski

Israelis are leaving large cities for rural areas, aren’t rushing to get married, and are living longer than ever before, with men’s life expectancy topping 80 years, according to data released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

According to the CBS figures, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Israel’s population numbers 8,252,500, of whom 6,186,100 (75 percent) are Jews, 1,709,900 (20.7 percent) are Arabs, and 356,500 are “others,” who include non-Arab Christians and those with no religion listed in the Population Registry.

This population estimate differs substantially from that released Sunday by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, because the CBS only counts those Israelis living in Israel, while the authority counts all Israeli citizens no matter where they are.

The Jewish population in Israel has grown since last year by 1.7 percent and the Arab population by 2.2 percent.

In 2013 there was negative migration from most of Israel’s large cities. The net loss of residents in the greater Tel Aviv area was 7,700, while the city of Tel Aviv lost 1,900 people. The Jerusalem district saw a net loss of 6,300 people, but in Jerusalem itself the net loss was even higher – 7,400 – the largest net loss of residents among Israeli cities.

In contrast, the central district, which includes Rishon Letzion, Ra’anana, Rehovot, Rosh Ha’ayin, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Modi’in, Lod, Kfar Saba, Yavne, Hod Hasharon and other population centers, had a net gain of residents, with Petah Tikva standing out with a gain of 3,100 people. The Haifa district and the West Bank settlements also saw net gains, with the settlements gaining a total of 2,800 people.

Many of those leaving the cities are moving to rural areas, which saw a net gain of 6,800 people in 2013.

Life expectancy continues to rise. In 2013, the average life expectancy for men was 80.3 years and for women, 83.9 years. Two years ago, the numbers were 79.9 and 83.6, respectively. All told, life expectancy since the 1970s has risen by 9.1 years for men, and 9.2 years for women. Life expectancy remains higher for Jews than for Arabs, although the gap has narrowed over the past decade. In 2013 the difference was three years for men and 3.4 years for women.

Contrary to what younger women might think, up to age 30 there are more men than women in Israel, but starting at age 31 the trend starts to reverse, and by age 75 and up there are only 696 men for every 1,000 women. Overall, the ratio is 982 men for every 1,000 women.

The tendency of Jewish Israelis to marry later is continuing, shown in the growing number of singles aged 25-29. In this group in 2012, 63.3 percent of the men and 46 percent of the women had never been married. Ten years before, the percentages were 54 percent and 33.3 percent, respectively.

Among Muslims the percentage of singles is lower: 45.5 percent of the men and 18.8 percent of the women aged 25-29 were single in 2012.

In 2013, 16,884 Jews moved to Israel, up 2 percent over 2012. Most of the immigrants came from Russia (some 4,000); France (2,900), the United States (2,180), Ukraine (1,900) and Ethiopia (1,350). These numbers also differ from the population authority figures released Sunday, because the authority’s figures were for the Jewish year 5774 (September 2013-September 2014).

Israel’s migration balance in 2012 was negative, with a net loss of 7,100 people. The migration balance is the difference between the number of residents living more than a year abroad and the number of Israelis who returned to Israel after spending at least a year abroad. In 2011 there was a net loss of 6,600 people.

According to the bureau, there are a total of 14.2 million Jews in the world, 43 percent of whom live in Israel. In 1939, on the eve of World War II, there were 16.6 million Jews, of whom only 3 percent lived in what was then Mandatory Palestine.