At the start of January 2019, Israel’s population stood at 8,972,000. This is a more than 10-fold increase compared to when Israel was founded in 1948.
Diversity & Growth
The Jewish population makes up 6,668,000 (74.3%); 1,878,000 (20.9%) are Arabs; and, those identified as “others” (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc) make up 4.8% of the population (426,000 people). In 2017, the population by religion was roughly 18% Muslim, 2% Christian and 2% Druze.
When the state was established, there were only 806,000 residents and the total population reached its first and second millions in 1949 and 1958 respectively. Judging by current population trend data, experts predict that the population of Israel will reach 10 million by 2024 or sooner.
In addition to these numbers, there are approximately 170,000 people living in Israel who are neither citizens nor permanent residents.
The overall population grew by 2% in 2018.
Out of the 14.5 million Jewish people in the world, 46% reside in Israel. The Jewish population of Israel now exceeds that of the United States by roughly one million.
Some 185,000 babies were born (74.4% Jews, 22.8% Arabs, and 2.8% others) and 45,000 people died in 2018.
Israel is the 99th most populous country in the world, not including the over 250,000 illegal foreign workers and African migrants residing in Israel.
Of Israeli Jews, 44.3% self-identify as secular, 11% simply as religious, and 9% as ultra-Orthodox. According to the Israel Democracy Institute, the percentage of ultra-Orthodox is slightly higher.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews As Percentage of Population
|Number||% of Total||Number||% of Total||Number||% of Total|
|Source: Israel Democracy Institute|
Immigration & Naturalization
While the number of immigrants from most countries declined, those from Russia increased significantly. “Most of the immigrants coming to Israel from Russia and Ukraine in recent years do not qualify as Jewish under religious law, even if they are eligible for citizenship,” Judy Maltz noted, “To qualify for citizenship under the Law of Return, an individual must have at least one Jewish grandparent, a Jewish spouse or have undergone a conversion in a recognized Jewish community (it does not have to be an Orthodox conversion). To qualify as a Jew under religious law, an individual must have been born to a Jewish mother or have undergone an Orthodox conversion by rabbis recognized by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.”
Another significant change in 2018 was a surprising reduction in the number of immigrants from France despite rising anti-Semitism in that country. Moreover, Maltz reported that many French Jews who moved to Israel have returned to France because of difficulty integrating into Israeli society due to the inability to master Hebrew and find jobs matching their skills.
In 2017, 75% of the total Jewish population were “Sabras” - born in Israel - compared with just a 35% native-born population at Israel’s independence in 1948. Over half of the Jewish population are Israeli-born to at least one parent who was also Israeli-born.
Those of European and American ancestry make up about 2.2 million (36%) of the Jewish population in Israel while Africans fill out another 14.5% and Asians are 11.2%.
A study performed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that one in four Jewish individuals currently live in a country other than the one they were born in. In contrast, one in twenty Christians and one in twenty-five Muslims live in a country other than that of their birth. This makes Jewish individuals the world’s top migrants.
A Young Population
Israel’s population is considered young relative to the populations of other Western countries.
As of 2017, 28% of the population was aged 0-14 while only 10.3% were older than 65 years of age. OECD average is 18.5% (0-14) and 15% (65+). Israel’s average age, however, is getting older. In 2011, the average age was 29.5 years as opposed to 27.6 in the year 2000. Average age worldwide for males is 28.4 and for women is 30.6 years old. Life expectancy for Israelis is 80.9 years for men, and 84.5 years for women.
The World Health Organization issued a report in May 2016 that concluded humans were on average living 5 years longer than they were in 2000. Israel was ranked as the country with the 8th highest life expectancy in the world, better than the United States, Canada, France, Russia, and other highly developed nations. Life expectancy in 2018 was 80.6 years for men and 84.2 years for women.
Israel’s population density in 2017 was reported as 373.2 people per km2. By comparison, Slovenia (who’s territory is roughly the same size as Israel’s) has a population density of 102 people per km2; Belgium (slightly larger than Israel) has a density of 364 people per km2.
The most popular cities for new immigrants to settle down in during 2014 were Tel Aviv and Netanya, with 3,275, and 3,102 new immigrants settling there, respectively.
2013 saw negative migration from Israel’s largest cities, as people migrated to the suburbs and the surrounding hills. The greater Tel Aviv area lost 7,700 residents with the city itself losing 1,900. Jerusalem suffered a population loss of 7,400, while outlying areas such as Rehovot, Petah Tikva, Lod, and Modi’in experienced a net population increase. Petah Tikva experienced the largest population increase, with 3,100 individuals. Haifa and the West Bank reported total gains of 2,800 individuals as well.
Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city, with a population of 865,700.
Israel’s male to female population ratio is 982. : 1,000.
Israel has 15 cities that are home to over 100,000 people.
Birth, Marriage & Divorce
The average age for an Israeli woman to be married in 2016 was 26.1 years old, and the average age for an Israeli woman to have her first child was 28.3. Teen births are uncommon in Israel, with births to women aged 19 and under accounting for 0.5% of national births during 2016.
Israel has the highest birth rate in the developed world, with an average of 3.11 children per woman. The distant runner-up is Mexico, with only 2.2 children per woman. The average fertility rate for countries like France, the U.S., Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands is less than two children per woman. The birth rates for Jewish and Arab Israeli women were identical (3.13 children per woman) for the first time in history during 2015.
Sources: Maytal Yasur Beit-Or.
Israel boasts highest fertility rate among OECD nations, Israel Hayom, (November 13, 2017);
Nearing nine million: Israel in numbers on eve of 2018, YNet News (December 31, 2017);
Israel’s Population Near Nine Million on Eve of 70th Independence Anniversary, Haaretz, (April 16, 2018);
Ilan Lazarovich, As new year approaches, Israelis say they are happy, healthy, Israel Hayom, (September 5, 2018);
“Israel’s population 8.972m on eve of 2019,” Globus, (December 31, 2018);
Judy Maltz, “Number of Russians Moving to Israel Sees Dramatic Rise, American Aliyah Figures Drop,” Haaretz, (December 27, 2018).