Young ultra-Orthodox Jews increasingly delaying marriage — report

New figures point to rising number of single Haredim, particularly women, in their twenties

An illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox wedding. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
An illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox wedding. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Young ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel are increasingly putting off marriage, potentially presaging a long-term drop in the birthrate of the fast-growing community, according to a think tank’s annual report.

The trend has been particularly pronounced among women, with the number of single ultra-Orthodox females aged 20-29 jumping from 20 percent to 33% over the last decade, according to figures from the Israel Democracy Institute.

The number of single ultra-Orthodox males in their 20s, meanwhile, rose only slightly, from 29% to 32%, between 2005 and 2016.

Among both sexes, the number of single ultra-Orthodox Jews in their twenties rose from 24% to 32.5% during that time period.

For ultra-Orthodox Jews between ages 20-24, the percentage of those married dropped from 61% in 2005 to 44% in 2016.

The statistics were first reported by the Haaretz daily on Sunday.

The rising number of single ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredim as they are known in Israel, could have a profound effect on the community, where many women marry in their late teens and proceed to have a large number of children.

Based on current trends, ultra-Orthodox Jews, who currently number more than 1 million people, or about 12% of Israel’s 8.7 million citizens, are expected to make up an increasingly larger percentage of Israel’s population in the decades to come.

Their numbers are expected to rise to 14% in 2024, 19% in 2039 and 27% in 2059, the Israel Democracy Institute predicted earlier this year.

While the increase in young ultra-Orthodox singles has yet to have any recorded impact on the community’s high birthrate, the rising number of Haredi females delaying marriage means these women will also put off childbirth. This, in turn, would likely lead to a drop in the number of children they have, as borne out by the impact of the same trend in other countries.

Although there is no single factor seen as responsible for the declining rate of young marriages among young Haredim, observers of the community who spoke to Haaretz pointed to an increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox Jews who work and pursue college degrees, as well as technological changes such as dating applications.

AP contributed to this report.

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