For the First Time in Israel's History, Jewish Fertility Rate Surpasses That of Arabs

Arab women had a higher fertility rate than Jews in Israel for years, but data reported by the Central Bureau of Statistics points to a change

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Baby at the maternity ward in Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv, January 23, 2011.
Baby at the maternity ward in Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv, January 23, 2011.Credit: David Bachar
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Jewish Israeli women's fertility rate exceeded in 2018 that of their Arab peers, for the first time in the country's history, according to data released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The rate among Jewish women living in Israel and in Israeli settlement in the West Bank was 3.05 compared to 3.04 for Israeli Arab women. The data excludes Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who aren't Israeli citizens.

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The figures reflect the number of expected births per woman throughout her life. In addition, the category of “Jewish” also includes Israeli women whose religion is defined as “other,” the great majority of whom are non-Arab Christians related to Jews.

The overall fertility rate in Israel in 2018 was 3.09 children per woman – a small drop compared to 3.11 in 2017. The average fertility rate for 2017 for all developed countries of the OECD was 1.65.

though the gap has narrowed through the years. 

Fertility rates.

As a new decade begins, 9.136 million people live in Israel, the bureau also reported. Jews account for 6.772 million of this population (74.1 percent), with 1.916 million Arabs (21.0 percent).

These figures include Jews living in Israel and in West Bank settlements, as well as Israeli Arabs, but not Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. It also does not include foreign workers, who numbered about 164,000 at the end of 2018.

Israel’s population grew by 1.9 percent in 2019, 78 percent of this as a result of natural population growth, and the remaining 22 percent from immigration.

Some 34,000 immigrants arrived in 2019, while 177,000 babies were born – 74 percent to Jewish women, and 23.2 percent to Arabs, while 45,000 people died.

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