Peering Into the Crystal Ball: How Israel Will Look, Statistically, in 2035

Women will live six years longer, Jewish women will have a higher birth rate than Arab women, 15 percent of the population will be over 65 and immigration will slow while more Israelis leave.

Tali Heruti-Sover.
Tali Heruti-Sover
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Tali Heruti-Sover.
Tali Heruti-Sover

The Central Bureau of Statistics has unveiled its predictions for Israel's demographic makeup in 2035, offering a glance into a crystal ball that should also be a warning sign for Israel’s decision-makers.

According to the bureau's report, published Wednesday, Israel will have a population of 11.4 million by the end of 2035. By then, the pace of average annual growth will be 1.4 percent, lower than the period on which the projections were based, 2006–2010, when the average growth rate was 1.9 percent. Nearly all of that growth, 94 percent, will be from natural increase rather than immigration.

The Jewish population will remain the largest, at 8.3 million, 73 percent of the total, with the Arab population at 2.6 million (23 percent), higher than in 2010 when they made up 20.5 percent of the population. Muslims will number 2.3 million (20 percent), the Druze population will be 185,000 (1.6 percent), and Arab Christians will be approximate 152,000 (1.3 percent).

While the Arab population will increase as a percentage of the total Israeli population, it won’t be growing quite as fast. The Arab growth rate is expected to be 1.8 percent, compared with 2.7 percent from 2006 to 2010. One of the reasons is a lower life expectancy than the Jewish population.

Births: Judaism moves into first place

The crystal ball further shows that the average number of children in Israel will decrease, though it will remain higher among the Arab population and – surprisingly – higher than in neighboring countries. Today, there are 2.95 births per woman on average in Israel and by 2035 that will drop to 2.75. Still, it's higher than in Jordan (2.41), Egypt (2.27), Syria (2.23) and Lebanon (1.53). It's also significantly higher than the United Nations' predicted growth rate in developed countries, at 1.82.

Another surprising statistic is the dramatic drop in the fertility rate among Muslim women – from 3.37 to 2.70 – and a small increase among Jewish women from 2.99 to 3.04, making Judaism the religion with the highest birthrate in the report, replacing Islam. Arab Christians are projected to have the lowest birthrate at 2.1 children per women.

Altogether, that's 4.7 million babies over the next 25 years — 188,000 average births per year, up from 166,000 births in 2010. The number of children under 14 years old will rise from about 2.2 million to 2.9 million, but as a percentage of the population, they'll drop from 28 to 26 percent.

The elderly: More folks joining Shimon Peres

The population will soon skew older, much older. The demographic of those over 65 is expected to grow more than any other age group, reaching 1.7 million, compared to 763,000 by the end of 2010 – an impressive 117 percent increase. Their proportion in the population will grow from 10 to 14.6 percent.

Life expectancy will continue to rise among both men and women. Jewish men will live five more years on average, from 79.7 years to 84.8. Women will still outlive them, their average increasing from 83.3 to 89.5. Life expectancy among Arab men will rise from 75.9 to 81.6 and among Arab women from 79.7 to 86.3. These increases will bump up the entire population’s median age from 28.3 to 30.1 among men and 30.5 to 32.4 among women.

Now here's the whopper: Of those 65 and older, the highest rate of growth – 220 percent – will be among those aged 90 and over. Their numbers will increase from 33,000 at the end of 2010 to 106,000, making up one percent of Israel’s total population (compared with 0.6 percent today).

Some bad news though: 1.2 million deaths are predicted in the projection period, 48,000 per year on average as opposed to 40,000 in 2010.

Immigration slows down

According to the bureau's prediction, roughly 400,000 new immigrants will arrive in Israel by 2035, but this indicates a steep decline, from 23,000 on average annually in 2010 to 16,000 annual immigrants in the future. Another approximately 100,000 immigrants will arrive in Israel as part of family reunification (4,000 per year on average, similar to 2010).

Meanwhile, the number of people emigrating from Israel will also increase: about 290,000 Israelis are expected to leave by 2035. That's about 12,000 a year, a sharp rise from 9,000 annually in 2010.

Illustration: Crystal ballCredit: Reuters

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