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World Jewish Population Grows, Slowly

One in every 514 people in the world is Jewish.

Adam Chandler
September 10, 2012
1997 Global Jewish Population (Virtual Library)
1997 Global Jewish Population (Virtual Library)

One of the bigger stories in the United States over the weekend was the newest American jobs report, which noted the adding of 96,000 new jobs in the month of August. From across the political spectrum, there were naturally all kinds of reactions, ranging from charges of a sluggish economic recovery on the right to the narrative of 30 straight months of job growth on the left. Some cited the overall lowering of the unemployment rate from 8.3% to 8.1%.

Another piece of data released over the weekend is evoking similar response, albeit on a much, much smaller scale: the news that the global Jewish population has grown by 88,000 (in a year, not a month). The dominating headline is that there was growth, but it was also at a sluggish rate. In fact, the Jewish growth rate is .65%, which is about half the growth rate of the world population.

The report’s findings revealed that while the world’s population grew by 1.26 percent and crossed the seven billion mark, the growth rate of the Jewish people was significantly smaller at 0.65%. In all, one out of 514 people in the world is Jewish — less than 0.2% of mankind, according to excerpts of the study published in Maariv Sunday.

The Jewish Press was quick to point out that the Jewish population outside of Israel had actually gotten smaller. It was the first time that the population in the Diaspora had shrunk–at a loss of 10,000. The report cited aliyah and intermarriage as the main contributing factors in the decline.

The numbers now break down thusly:
13.75 million Jews
43% or 5.97 million in Israel (the world’s biggest Jewish population since 2005)
39% or 5.46 million in the United States
1.43 million in Europe

And for some perspective, the ratio of Jewish basketball players in the NBA is considerably greater than the ratio of Jews in the world. But, on the other hand, there are more Jews in the world than Jews in Aerosmith.

Commenters, I’d love your thoughts on what the data means.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.