“And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.” Exodus 1:7 (The Israel Bible™)
The fertility rate for Jewish women (4.3 children per mother) in Jerusalem has surpassed the fertility rate among the city’s Arab women (3.3 children), according to newly released data.
The 2016 fertility figures were provided by the Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, which is issued annually by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the municipality. The overall fertility rate represents the number of children a woman is projected to give birth to in her life. Unsurprisingly, the high rate among Jewish women is heavily influenced by the city’s haredi and religious population.
Despite the fertility numbers, Jerusalem’s overall Arab population has continued to grow while the city’s Jewish majority shrinks. In 2014, the last year for which official figures are available, Jerusalem’s population of 849,000 residents comprised 533,900 Jews (63 percent) and 315,900 Arabs (37 percent). The Arab population growth rate that year stood at 2.7 percent, while the growth rate for the Jewish population was just 2.2 percent. Unofficial figures now show that the city’s Jewish majority has dropped to 61 percent of the population.
The Jewish majority has decreased not because of the fertility rate, but because more Jews are leaving Jerusalem than moving there. In 2014, 17,100 Jewish residents left the city, but only 10,400 new residents moved in. Research has attributed this trend to the shortage of available or accessible housing in Jerusalem. During the past decade, construction beyond the pre-1967 lines has fallen off due to political pressure. Construction in the western part of Jerusalem, over that same time period, has decreased due to pressure from environmental groups. Construction has been concentrated in the city’s central neighborhoods and primarily consists of high-rise buildings.