Israel’s fertility rate is far higher than rest of OECD

Statistics bureau also says that in 2016, Jewish and Arab women on average had almost the same number of children

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Illustrative: A maternity ward in an Israeli hospital. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A maternity ward in an Israeli hospital. (Flash90)

Israel’s fertility rate was significantly higher in 2016 than that of any other developed country’s, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday in a report that also found that Jewish women have almost as many babies as Arab women, continuing a trend whereby that gap has steadily narrowed over the last 20 years.

According to the report, 181,405 babies were born in Israel in 2016 — a 92 percent increase compared to the year 1980. Almost 74 percent of the babies were born to Jewish mothers and 20.7% to Muslim women. Of the newborns, 51.5% were male and 48.5% were female.

Almost 7% of babies were born out of wedlock. Some 4.6% of newborns were born from multiple-birth pregnancies, of whom 97% were twins, the report said.

The overall fertility rate for Israelis was 3.11 children per woman, much higher than any other member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD average is about 1.7 kids per woman, and the second-highest fertility rate for a member of the organization is Mexico with about 2.2.

Jewish women in 2016 had 3.06 kids on average, higher than in 1996 when the number was 2.59. In contrast, the average Arab woman had 3.11 children, significantly down from 4.35 in 1996 and from almost 6 in 1980.

The highest fertility rate in communities with a population of more than 10,000 people was in the ultra-Orthodox town of Modiin Illit, with 7.59 babies per woman. The lowest, 1.91, was in northern secular town of Kiryat Tivon.

The average age at which Israeli women have their first child has increased by a year and five months since the year 2000, and in 2016 was 30.4, according to the report.

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