Jewish, Arab fertility rates in Israel on par for first time

Arab rate drops, Jewish rate rises, and women in both groups now give birth to an average of 3.13 children, highest in OECD

Illustrative: Newborn babies in a Jerusalem hospital. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Newborn babies in a Jerusalem hospital. (Flash90)

The fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women were identical for the first time in Israeli history in 2015, according to figures released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday to mark International Child Day.

Jewish and Arab women had given birth to an average of 3.13 children as of last year, the report said.

In 2000, the fertility among the country’s Arab population stood at 4.3 children per woman, while the fertility rate of Jewish women was 2.6. Since then the gap has narrowed as the Arab rate dropped off and the Jewish fertility rates steadily increased.

At the end of 2015 there were 2.8 million children in Israel aged between 0-17, amounting to 33 percent of the population, of whom roughly two million (71.3%) were Jewish, 718,000 were Arab (25.7%) and 84,000 (3.0%) classified as others.

Israel’s fertility rate is the highest among the developed countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to data on the organization’s website. The youth population was the second highest in the OECD behind only Mexico in 2013, the most recent year with available data.

There were on average 2.4 children per household across the country. The city of Beit Shemesh had the highest average with 3.8 children per household, Bnei Brak next with 3.4 and in Jerusalem, the capital, there were three children per household. All three cities have large ultra-Orthodox populations who tend to have larger families than the national average.

The coastal city of Bat Yam had the lowest youth population with just 1.8 children per household.

The income of households with children was 1.3 times higher than homes without, NIS 17,658 ($4,595) a month compared to NIS 13,624 ($3,545), but the expenses were 1.4 times as high standing at NIS 14,677 ($3,819) compared to NIS 10,422 ($2,712).

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