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The world's core Jewish population was estimated at 14.41 million in 2016. Demographer Sergio DellaPergola proposes an "extended" Jewish population, including people identifying as partly Jewish and non-Jews with Jewish parents, numbering 17.3 million globally, and an "enlarged" Jewish population figure that also includes non-Jewish members of Jewish households totaling 20.2 million. Additionally, the total number of people who hold or are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return — defined as anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, and who does not profess any other religion — is estimated at around 23 million, of which 6.6 million are living in Israel as of 2015. Figures for these expanded categories are less precise than for the core Jewish population.
While dozens of countries host at least a small Jewish population, the community is concentrated in a handful: Israel and the United States account for 83% of the Jewish population, while a total of 98 countries host the other 17%.
With just over 6.5 million Jews, Israel is the only Jewish majority and explicitly Jewish state. Jewish population figures for the United States are contested, ranging between 5.7 and 6.8 million. (The core global total of Jews jumps above 15 million if the highest American estimates are assumed). Other countries with a significant Jewish population are, like Israel and the United States, typically well-developed Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members with Jews concentrated in major urban centers.
In 1939, the core Jewish population reached its historical peak of 17 million (0.8% of the global population). Due to the Holocaust, the number was reduced to 11 million in 1945. The population grew to around 13 million by the 1970s, and then recorded near-zero growth until around 2005 due to low fertility rates and to assimilation. Since 2005, the world's Jewish population grew modestly at an annual rate of around 0.78% (to 2013). This increase primarily reflected the rapid growth of Haredi and some Orthodox sectors, who are becoming a growing proportion of Jews.
Recent Jewish population dynamics are characterized by continued steady increase in the Israeli Jewish population and flat or declining numbers in other countries (the diaspora). The Jewish population of Israel increased from the country's inception in 1948 to 6,135,000 in 2014 while the population of the diaspora has dropped from 10.5 to 8.1 million over the same period. Current Israeli Jewish demographics are characterized by a relatively high fertility rate of 3 children per woman and a stable age distribution. The overall growth rate of Jews in Israel is 1.7% annually. The diaspora countries, by contrast, have low Jewish birth rates, an increasingly elderly age composition, and a negative balance of people leaving Judaism versus those joining.
Immigration trends also favor Israel ahead of diaspora countries. The Jewish state has a positive immigration balance (called aliyah in Hebrew). Israel saw its Jewish numbers significantly buoyed by a million-strong wave of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and immigration growth has been steady in the low tens of thousands since then. In the rest of the world, only the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany have had a positive recent Jewish migration balance outside of Israel. In general, the English-speaking world has seen its share of the diaspora increase since the Holocaust and the foundation of Israel, while historic Jewish populations in Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East have significantly declined or disappeared.
France continues to be home to the world's third largest Jewish community, around 500,000, but has shown an increasingly negative trend. Emigration loss to Israel amongst French Jews reached the tens of thousands between 2014 and 2017 following a wave of antisemitic attacks.
Debate over United States numbers
The number of Jews in the United States has been the subject of much debate because of questions over counting methodology. In 2012, Sheskin and Dashefsky put forward a figure of 6.72 million based on a mixture of local surveys, informed local estimates, and US census data. They qualified their estimate with a concern over double counting and suggested the real figure may lie between 6 and 6.4 million. Drawing on their work, the Steinhardt Social Research Institute released their own estimate of 6.8 million Jews in the United States in 2013. These figures are in contrast to Israeli demographer Sergio DellaPergola's number of 5,425,000, also in 2012. He has called high estimates “implausible” and “unreliable” although he revised the United States Jewish number upward to 5.7 in subsequent years. This controversy followed a similar debate in 2001 when the National Jewish Population Survey released a United States Jewish estimate as low as 5.2 million only to have serious methodological errors suggested in their survey. In sum, a confidence interval of a million or more people is likely to persist in reporting on the number of Jewish Americans.
Countries and territories
Below is a list of Jewish populations in the world by country or territory. Unless otherwise indicated, core and enlarged population numbers are taken from DellaPergola's chapter "World Jewish Population" of the American Jewish Year Book of 2014. Where other credible sources present competing numbers, they are presented with a range and citation. DellaPergola's population figures are primarily based on national censuses combined with trend analysis. He has described the "core Jewish population" in the diaspora as "all persons who, when asked in a socio-demographic survey, identify themselves as Jews; or who are identified as Jews by a respondent in the same household, and do not have another monotheistic religion." DellaPergola defined the "enlarged Jewish population" by adding those "persons who state they are partly Jewish", "non-Jews who have Jewish parents", and "non-Jewish members of Jewish households" to the "core Jewish population."
The American Jewish Year Book numbers are reproduced with explanatory notes by country in the online Jewish Virtual Library. The library is a comprehensive non-governmental website covering topics about U.S.-Israel relations and the Jewish people. A number of tiny countries whose Jewish populations are not listed in DellaPergola are provided here from the Virtual Library. For European countries, further information is provided by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, including an interactive map of core and enlarged Jewish population that generally corresponds to DellaPergola's figures.
Country populations used to deduce the "Population per Jewish Person" column in the table are taken from the CIA World Factbook, with most estimates current as of July 2014.
|Country or Territory||Core Jewish Population||Population per Jewish Person||Enlarged Jewish Population|
|United States||5,300,000 - 7,039,000||53||7,282,000|
|Argentina||181,300 - 230,000||238||330,000|
|South Africa||70,000||691||80,000 - 92,000|
|Mexico||40,000 - 67,476||3,007||50,000 - 67,476|
|Poland[b]||8,000||4,750||12,000 - 100,000|
|Uruguay||12,000 - 17,200||278||25,000|
|Paraguay||900 - 1,000||7,448||1,500|
|United States Virgin Islands||500||208||700|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||500||7,742||1,000|
|Armenia||300 - 500||10,200||300 - 500|
|Pakistan||200 - 1500||980,870||1500|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||100||774,337||200|
|United Arab Emirates||100||91,570||500|
|Yemen||40 - 50||289,467||300|
|Albania||40 - 50||75,500||40 - 50|
|Egypt||18||5,259,277||40 - 50|
Remnant and vanished populations
The above table represents Jews that number at least a few dozen per country. Reports exist of Jewish communities remaining in other territories in the low single digits that are on the verge of disappearing, particularly in the Muslim world, as their reaction to the birth of Israel in 1948 was the retaliatory persecution of Jews in nearly all Muslim lands; these are often of historical interest as they represent the remnant of much larger Jewish populations. For example, Egypt had a Jewish community of 80,000 in the early 20th century that numbered fewer than 40 as of 2014, mainly because of the forced expulsion movements to Israel and other countries at that time. Afghanistan may have only one Jew left, Zablon Simintov, despite a 2,000 year history of Jewish presence. In Syria, another ancient Jewish community saw mass exodus at the end of the 20th century and numbered fewer than 20 in the midst of the Syrian Civil War. The size of the Jewish community in Indonesia has been variously given as 65, 100, or 18 at most over the last 50 years.
Core Jewish population
- Historical Jewish population comparisons
- Jewish ethnic divisions
- Jewish population by urban areas
- Judaism by country
- Numbers in this list are the total for Israel proper as well as Israeli settlers in the disputed Palestinian territories. Broken down by area, the Jewish population numbers are:
- Israel: 5,763,100 (core); 6,103,100 (enlarged)
- Palestinian territories: 340,100 (core); 348,000 (enlarged)
- Poland shows the widest range of any entry in this table. Once the epicenter of the diaspora with millions of Jews, the population was decimated by the Holocaust and further subdued by communism; estimating current numbers has been difficult. DellaPergola presents conservative estimates of just 3,200 (core) and 7,500 (enlarged) because census numbers have been low. There is reason to suspect the number is higher with multiple sources suggesting a population in the range of 20,000 to 25,000. One report notes that estimates have ranged anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000.Around 8,000 people in Poland openly describe themselves as religious Jews and are active members of Jewish organizations in Poland today. Therefore the number can be taken as a realistic minimum of the number of Jews in today's Poland.
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