Jewish population by country
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The world's core Jewish population in early 2014 was estimated at 14.2 million people (around 0.2% of the world's 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 18 countries host 98%.
With just over 6 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 US, typically well-developed OECD 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 again to around 13 million by the 1970s, but has since recorded near-zero growth until around 2005 due to low fertility rates and to assimilation. Since 2005, the world's Jewish population has been growing modestly at a rate of around 0.78% (in 2013). This increase primarily reflects the rapid growth of Haredi and some Orthodox sectors, who are becoming a growing proportion of Jews.
Demographer Sergio DellaPergola proposes an "extended" Jewish population, including people identifying as partly Jewish and non-Jews with Jewish parents, that numbers 17.2 million globally. His "enlarged" Jewish population figure further includes non-Jewish members of Jewish households and totals 20.1 million. Finally, 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 actively profess any other religion — is estimated at around 22.9 million, of which 6.4 million are currently living in Israel. Figures for these expanded categories are naturally less precise than for the core Jewish population.
Recent Jewish population dynamics are characterized by continued steady increase in the Israeli Jewish population and flat or declining numbers in countries of the diaspora. The Jewish population of Israel has increased more than tenfold since the country's inception in 1948 to 6,135,000 today 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 this group 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 (referred to as aliyah in the country). 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. Globally, only the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany have shown a positive recent Jewish migration balance outside of Israel. In general, the anglosphere 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, between 500,000 and 600,000 people, but has shown an increasingly negative trend, including the largest emigration loss to Israel in 2014.
Debate over American numbers
The exact number of Jews in the United States has been the subject of much debate given 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 this, however, with a concern over double counting and suggested the real figure may lie between 6 and 6.4 million. Drawing on the work, the Steinhardt Social Research Institute released their own estimate of 6.8 million Jews in the United States in 2013. All of these figures stand 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 did revise the American Jewish number upward to 5.7 million in 2014. This latest furor follows a similar debate in 2001 when the National Jewish Population Survey released a Jewish American 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 these are presented with a range and citation. DellaPergola's population figures are primarily based on national censuses combined with trend analysis. Regarding definitions, 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."
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 jew" 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 Jew||Enlarged Jewish Population|
|United States||5,300,000 ||53||6,800,000|
|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]||25,000||11,983||7,500 - 100,000|
|Uruguay||12,000 - 17,200||278||25,000|
|Iran||8,756 - 10,000||9,186||12,000|
|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|
|Yemen||90 - 200||289,467||300|
|Albania||40 - 50||75,500||40 - 50|
Remnant and vanished populations
The above table represents Jews that number at least a few dozen per country. Reports do 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; these are often of historical interest as they represent the remnant of once much larger Jewish populations. Egypt, for example, had a Jewish community of 80,000 in the early twentieth century that numbers less than 40 today, mainly because of the immigration movements to Israel 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 twentieth century and numbered less 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.
- Jewish ethnic divisions
- Jewish population by urban areas
- Judaism by country
- Historical Jewish population comparisons
- 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. DellaPagoria 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.
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