Monday, August 10, 2009

"Fertility in Israel: Is the Transition to Replacement Level In Sight?"

Israel is a nation marked profoundly by planning, from the construction and adoption of Modern Hebrew as a common tongue then as a first language, from the design of agricultural communities and the designation of settlement patterns, to the construction of the basic institutions of state and civil society.

That's why it's ironic, as detailed in Dov Friedlander's paper on Israeli demographic trends, that fertility and migration trends in Israel have to be considered not so much nationally as sectionally, with European and American Jews, Sephardim and Arab Jews, different religiously- and territorially-defined Arab populations, and recent eastern European immigrants all constituting their own relatively self-contained communities and are themselves divided between secular and religious groups.

Friedlander's paper provides a fascinating look at demographic trends in one of the world's most ethnically and religiously complex economically developed countries. Go, read.

17 comments:

Aslak said...

It is a good paper. Friedlander was a little bit unfortunate in that he seems that he published the paper in 2002 when Arab fertility, and Muslim fertility in particular in Israel had been stable for a very long time. He therefore made the entirely reasonable prediction that it would remain stable -in the very year when it started to decline again. Shows you how hard it is to predict these things.

It's interesting that ultra-orthodox fertility has actually risen since the 50's - perhaps it's an indication that their very high fertility is a result of Israeli policies and not something "intrinsic" to the ultra-orthodox. Alternatively, there may have been some change from within?

Unknown said...

Muslim fertility is also a kind of fiction. The Muslim sector basically consists of the Bedouins and everybody else. I don't think that in terms of fertility there exists these days a dramatic difference between regular Muslim Arabs and Israeli Jews. The bulk of Muslim demographics in Israel is concentrated in the South, in Bedouin tribes.

Cicerone said...

So from what I've read and found out, the secular Jews in israel aren't that different in fertility behavior than the Americans or the French. Cities like Haifa, Tel-Aviv or Herzliya all have fertility rates in the range of 2 children/woman. Non bedouin moslems are having 3-3.5 children/woman, thats what Statistics Israel is telling. (assuming that bedouins live only in Southern District).


Aslak, I think that the high fertility of the ultra-orthodox isn't influenced that much by the government. British or American ultra-orthodox people are also having TFRs in the range of 7 children/woman.

Since 2001, bedouin fertility has dropped from 9 to 7, still high, but they're showing signs of converging to the other people.

I can't wait to see the figures of Israel for 2008. :)

Aslak said...

Cicerone: perhaps, but since fertility has increased there must be some new dynamic at play. If you want a preview of the 2008 numbers for Israel, the CBS has already published birth and birth rate statistics here
http://www1.cbs.gov.il/www/yarhon/c1_e.htm

They haven't calculated fertility rates, but the trend seems to continue.

Nobody: Question about the national-religious sector: Is it fair to assume that in terms of economic success and education they behave more like secular Jews than haredi? Are there any estimates of how many of them there are?

Unknown said...

There should be estimates. But I don't remember the numbers. In terms of economic success and education, national religious should do better than secular Jews. In terms of education for sure, they do better in matriculation certificates and such stuff.

Benj said...

What Friedlander did not forecast was the massive cuts in social support for large families implemented by Netanyahu in 2003-2005. This is the main reason for the rapid drop of the muslim fecundity. That and the increasing education level of women.
The trend of lower natality is felt among all the middle east including the Palestinians in the territories.
In the same time, the Jewish natality is still increasing - and as it seems that the ultra-orthodox fertility also dropped slightly, it appears that the non-religious jewish population is indeed making more children.

Unknown said...

It's unclear to what degree Bibi's social cuts are responsible for the drop in Muslim fertility because the trend started before Bibi. And the share of the ultra orthodox among young Israelis is predicted to increase dramatically so they are probably the driving force behind the increase in Jewish natality.

Aslak said...

Nobody: Thanks, that is interesting. It's hard to do an analysis of Israeli demography because there are so many sectors within the Jewish part of the population, yet the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics does not differentiate between them in their statistics. I still have the ambition of looking at the subject in depth, but it might take a while

Benj said...

"It's unclear to what degree Bibi's social cuts are responsible for the drop in Muslim fertility because the trend started before Bibi".

Not exactly. The drop started, slowly, in 2003 and deepened in the years after. No doubt that there are other reasons like the better education Muslim women are receiving but the effect of the cut is very clear and documented.
The ICBS does not publish stats about the ultra-orthodox or other groups among the Jewish population, but we can also see that right after the cuts, the natality dropped in ultra-orthodox towns. The effect is undeniable.

Cicerone said...

From the data of 2008 of Statistics Israel, the drop in muslim birth-rates continues, although their absolute number of birhs have increased a bit. The drop of muslim fertility was indeed in 2003-2005, although the fertility is dropping further, but more slowly.

Unknown said...

Benj said...

"It's unclear to what degree Bibi's social cuts are responsible for the drop in Muslim fertility because the trend started before Bibi".

Not exactly. The drop started, slowly, in 2003 and deepened in the years after. No doubt that there are other reasons like the better education Muslim women are receiving but the effect of the cut is very clear and documented.


There is no point to argue about this since I have covered this issue extensively in this post. When Bibi reforms went into effect the Muslim Arab birth had already lost 8% compared to 2000. In fact, the drop did not start slowly in 2003, but it started in 2000 and the two years following 2003 were marked by a sharp decrease of the rate. The rate of decline has actually slowed down later. So you got it all in reverse.

Benj said...

I did read your post. You say almost the same thing as me. The difference is that the drop in Muslim natality rate was just 5% (not 8%) between 2000-2002 and 13% between 2003-2005 so yes I think the main reason is the cuts. But the other factors do also play and are more important in the long run.

Regarding the comments of the article, the mess you made trying to explain the Jewish nationality (in fact not so complicate) was funny. By the way, conservatives and reforms are not a majority among diaspora Jews, not even among americans. The reform movement claims 1.5 million people in all the world (knowing many of them, even if the figure is true, are not Jewish in the eyes are anybody but the reforms, and conservatives are slightly less).
Most diaspora Jews (who are some 8 millions people) are seculars and traditionalists.

Unknown said...

benj

Unless a person has severe reading comprehension problems, it's impossible to say that I am saying almost the same thing as you. But I am not lazy to repeat this to you if you are in need of this. The drop in Muslim and general Arab fertility started three years before Bibi. It did not start slowly dropping after Bibi reforms as you say, but Bibi social cuts coincided with its peak as it later did not deepen but slowed down. And you don't base your calculations on comparing 2000 with 2002, but 2000 with 2003 as it takes human pregnancy about nine months to complete. It's absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the next day after Bibi's social cuts hordes of Muslim women were heading en mass to clinics to abort. It's also very obvious from the second part of my post that I am not crediting Bibi reforms with the drop in Arab fertility as much as the policies of the previous governments that were investing in education in the Arab sector.

The myth about Bibi social reforms initiating demographic transition in the Arab sector is not only crediting Bibi with something that does not belong to him, but is harmful in itself as it excuses Israeli governments from having pro active policies aimed at actively shaping the country's demographics. Disseminating this ill based theory is equivalent to sabotage of the very idea of Israel having such policies. Whatever effect cutting child subsidies had on Muslim fertility, a well thought long term policy of improving education in the Arab sector and securing women's right could have achieved ten times more.

Benj said...

If you want to argue 10 years about details, that's your right. The drop before Bibi's cuts was very low and could even have been a statistical fluctuation.
After 2003, the drop was very deep.
And as I said, there is no debate about the fact that education of women and other factors are, in the long run, the main drive to decrease muslims natality in Israel. But not on the short term. Bibi's cuts had a clear impact, particularly on the Beduins, whether you like it or not

Unknown said...

benj

there is no point to argue about details since they are crystal clear. And the decline of 8% in three years cannot be dismissed as small or statistical fluctuation. Regarding education and such stuff, please consider the push under Rabin's government to level ground in education between the Jewish and Arab sectors, so I can commend you on starting saying almost the same thing as me.

ian said...

The Muslim sector basically consists of the Bedouins and everybody else.

My understanding is that Bedouins are only a minority of Arab Israelis/Palestinian Israelis/Israeli Palestinians.

Unknown said...

If it's a demographically hyper active minority, then it can make a difference for the demographics of the whole group. I think Ettinger once estimated that without Bedouins the Arab TFR would have been 3.2 instead of 3.6.