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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community in Israel:
Facts and Figures

(2018)

Population
Employment
National Service
Education
Marriage
Poverty
Income and Expenditures
Housing
Car ownership
Technology
Health


Population

The natural growth of the ultra-Orthodox population over the past decade has remained steady. The ultra-Orthodox population is relatively young, and numbered more than one million in 2018. Ultra-Orthodox women marry at a younger age and their fertility rates are more than double that of the general population. The ultra-Orthodox are also having their first child later. In 2004, an ultra-Orthodox woman aged 20-24 had an average of 1.7 children; today they have 1 child.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews As Percentage of Population
(thousands)

  2009 2014 2017
  Number % of Total Number % of Total Number % of Total
Ultra-Orthodox 750 10% 911 11% 1,033 12%
Other Jews 5,267 70% 5,560 68% 5,921 67%
Arab Israelis 1,536 20% 1,713 21% 1,835 21%
             
Total 7,553   8,184   8,789  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demographics
(2018)

  Ultra-Orthodox Other Jews
Natural growth 4.2% 1.4%
Age 0-19 58% 30%
Fertility rate 7.1 3.1

 

Employment

As of 2017, the employment rate among ultra-Orthodox men is slightly over 50%, and 73% among ultra-Orthodox women and has stopped rising since it plateaued in 2015.  

Percentage Employed
(ages 25-44)
2017

  Men Women
Ultra-Orthodox 50 73
Other Jews (2016) 87 82

National Service

Ultra-Orthodox Enlisting in the IDF or Serving in National Service
  National Service IDF
2007 290  
2008 390 437
2009 730 970
2010 1000 1109
2011 1282 1190
2012 1458 612
2013 1972 953
2014 2203 634
2015 2475 877
2016 2850 667
2017 3070 615

 

Education

In 2017, ultra-Orthodox students made up 18%-24% of the student population in Israel (general and Jewish population respectively). The annual growth rate of the ultra-Orthodox system slowed down in the past five years from 4.2% in 2013 to 3.2% in 2017. By contrast, the annual growth rate of the state school system rose over the same period from 0.5% to 2.2%.

There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon: the falling birth rate in the ultra-Orthodox sector; and the decline in the attractiveness of ultra-Orthodox schools for families who are not explicitly ultra-Orthodox in observance.

Another interesting trend is the rise in the percentage of ultra-Orthodox who take the matriculation exams, from 23% in 2005 to 34% in 2016. This increase is particularly evident among ultra-Orthodox girls, half of whom are now taking the matriculation exams, compared to only 31% in 2009.

Students Taking Matriculation Exams
(2016)

  National and National Religious School System Ultra-Orthodox School System
% of 12th grade students taking matriculation exams 94% 33%
% qualifying for a matriculation certificate 11% 76%

In 2017 114,000 ultra-Orthodox men attended yeshivas and kollelim (religious seminaries) - Up 21% in the past three years and the reverse of the trend in 2013-2014, when the number of yeshiva students dropped by 16%. The decline in 2013-2014 can be partially explained by subsidy cuts to yeshivas.On the macro level, in the past decade (2010-2017), the percentage of ultra-Orthodox students grew by 141% (in comparison to 9% growth rate among the general population). In addition the numbers of graduate students (M.A. degrees) continues to grow, and in 2017 there were 1,525 students – 5 times more than in 2010.

Marriage

There has been a rise in age at marriage in recent years: while in 2003-2004, 77% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis aged 20-29 were married, as compared with 73% in 2010-2011 and today stands at just 67%..

Marriage Rates (under 20)
(2016-17)
   
Ultra-Orthodox 83%
Other Jews 63%

 

Poverty

The prevalence of poverty is much greater among ultra-Orthodox Israelis than in the general population - 45% in 2017 in comparison with 11% among other Jewish Israelis. Nonetheless this is a sharp decrease, down from 58% in 2005, when government stipends were cut.

 

Income and Expenditures

The average monthly income of ultra-Orthodox households increased by 8% between 2015-2016, compared to a much smaller increase of 1.7% among other Jews. The average monthly expenditure of ultra-Orthodox families grew by 5% (from NIS 13,676 to 14,357). These increases reflect a rise in ultra-Orthodox salaries (by 10% between 2014-2016) among those employed.

Average Monthly Income (NIS)
  2015 2016
Ultra-Orthodox 12,616 13,658
Other Jews 20,807 21,173

Housing

As or 2017, 74% ultra-Orthodox own an apartment, down from 79% a decade ago while in the general Jewish population there was no significant change during those years. The change is particularly dramatic among ultra-Orthodox aged 20-29. A decade ago 60% owned the apartment they lived in and 33% rented. Today, only 50% own the apartment they live in and 47% are renting.

About 15% of the young ultra-Orthodox own housing they purchased as an investment, compared to 5% among the general Jewish population. This confirms the claim that many of the young ultra-Orthodox who marry, are required to buy an apartment as a condition for approval of the wedding. They buy an apartment at low prices in the periphery, rent it out, and live in a rented apartment in more central areas.

 

Car ownership

Between 2003–2017 the number of ultra-Orthodox Israelis who own a car increased by 35% (up from 31% to 42%) as compared with 80% of the general Jewish population. However, only 29% of ultra-Orthodox women have a driving license, compared to 59% of ultra-Orthodox men.

 

Technology

Use a Computer (ages 20+)
  2007 2017
Ultra-Orthodox 44% 54%

 

Health

Believe Their Health is Good
  2017
Ultra-Orthodox 73%
Other Jews 51%

73% of the ultra-Orthodox believe that their health is very good (compared with only 51% among other Jews).

Most of the ultra-Orthodox report that they did not have to forgo medical treatment (92%), medications (95%) or hot meals (95%), despite the high poverty rates (45%) among this population. Accordingly, the ultra-Orthodox trust in the health system is high and stands at 76%, similar to the non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. 94% of the ultra-Orthodox have their children vaccinated, the same rate as that among the general Israeli population.


Source: The 2018 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel is conducted by Dr. Gilad Malach and Dr. Lee Cahaner from the Israel Democracy Institute and is based on data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics, government agencies, the IDF and the National Insurance Institute.