Birthrate boom due to charedim

HIGH birthrates among charedim are responsible for a recent growth in the number of British Jews following decades of decline, says a new report.

It also shows that UK Jewish births increased at a rate three times higher than for the British population as a whole during the decade from 2005 to 2015.

The report — Vital Statistics of the UK Jewish Population: Births and Deaths — was published yesterday by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the Board of Deputies.

The figures show that between 2005 and 2015, total births in England and Wales increased by 8.1 per cent, whereas Jewish births rose by 25.4 per cent.

It was mainly due to the large families in the charedi community, who accounted for 47 per cent of Jewish babies born in 2015.

And, as charedim elevated the average overall for the Jewish community since 1979 — their birthrate is estimated at seven children per woman — the number of deaths within that group decreased noticeably in the same period in connection with improvement in health services and life expectancy.

From 1979-2006, the UK saw an average of 3,165 Jewish births and 3,858 Jewish deaths, the report says.

But in the years 2007-2015, the average figures were 3,599 and 3,254, respectively.

“The high fertility rates among the charedi sector are the main reason why we observe the positive natural increase of the Jewish population in the UK since 2006,” the report, authored by Dr Donatella Casale Mashiah, said.

A JPR report from 2015 said Britain’s charedi community is increasing by nearly five per cent a year while the wider, non-charedi Jewish population is decreasing by 0.3 per cent.

As a result, charedim are projected to become the majority group within British Jewry by 2031.

JPR executive director Dr Jonathan Boyd said: “These new data not only provide further evidence of the extraordinary demographic shift happening in the UK Jewish population but will also serve as a boon to community planners everywhere.”

Jewish birth and death counts have been monitored in the UK for several decades and, until recently, showed a clear excess of deaths over births.

However, when births outnumber deaths, a population grows and the new evidence outlined in the study indicates that, in contrast to almost all other Diaspora Jewish populations, it is the current situation in the UK.

Dr Boyd added: “The data will be a vital resource, particularly for determining the numbers of primary school places needed in the years to come.

“Jewish population growth will be seen among the youngest age bands, especially in the most Orthodox sectors, and community leaders and planners will need to plan effectively for that.”

The report cites two main reasons for the change. There has been an unprecedented transition in mortality — seen not just in the UK Jewish population but generally in the UK and worldwide — as a result of economic developments, improving living standards, public health measures, sanitary reforms and advancements in medicine.

High fertility among strictly Orthodox Jews is also driving a change in the UK Jewish population as a whole.

Board of Deputies chief executive Gillian Merron said: “We are committed to strategic research that supports our community’s ability to plan for school places for our young people and care facilities for our older people.

“The report provides an essential analysis of the UK Jewish population and great insight into its different components and sectors.

“It is wonderful to see that our vibrant, dynamic and thriving UK Jewish community is also growing.”

The number of Jewish funerals in 2016, the report found, was fewer than half the 4,937 in the peak year of 1979, reflecting a smaller total Jewish population than there was then and people are now living longer.

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