Jerusalem will have over a million residents by the end of the year, Maariv reported on Wednesday.
Population figures from the Interior Ministry show that at the end of 2011, there were 933,113 residents in the capital, and that by the end of this year that number will have passed the million mark.
Since 2010 the population of Jerusalem has increased by 81,891, of which 46,527 were babies born during 2011, the ministry said. The rest of the growth is ascribed to immigration to the city.
Mayor Nir Barkat, however, indicated in a recent address at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue that he worked on an assumption that Jerusalem has about 800,000 residents.
There is a discrepancy between the figures put out by the Interior Ministry and those of the Central Bureau of Statistics, which tends to show the population of the capital to be lower. The CBS told Maariv that the difference comes from the way residency is counted by the two offices. Whereas the Interior Ministry bases its figures on the number of people registered as residents of Jerusalem, the CBS tries to assess the actual number of people in the city.
At the Jerusalem Municipality there were mixed feelings about the figures, Maariv said, with officials concerned over whether the capital has the infrastructure to maintain such a large population.
“This could be worrying,” Meir Margalit, holder of the municipality’s East Jerusalem portfolio, said. “As we get near to the million mark it is not clear that Jerusalem has the tools to administer a city of a million residents.”
The figures refer only to residents in the Jerusalem municipal area, not the surrounding communities, although they do include the residents of the Shuafat refugee camp that is on the other side of the security barrier that winds past Jerusalem.
Municipal officials identified high birth rates, in particular among the Jewish ultra-Orthodox and Arab populations, as the main source of growth.
Curiously, while the number of 16-year-olds is similar in both the Jewish and non-Jewish populations, at just over 9,000 each, there are much greater differences in both older and younger segments of the residents. Among those above 80 years old, there are 19,268 Jews compared to just 3,117 non-Jews. Natality figures also showed a gap, with 29,757 Jews born in 2011 and only 16,770 non-Jews born in the same period.