This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, January 18, 2013

Orthodox Jews Driving Increase in New York

I have mentioned before that the ultra-Orthodox population of Israel is growing at a much higher rate than the rest of the Israeli population, and may be in a position to influence this coming Tuesday's election in Israel. The same demographic "divide" appears to be taking place in New York City, according to a report just out by the UJA-Federation of New York, and discussed in today's New York Times.
The Jewish population in the New York area grew by 9 percent over the last decade, reversing a longstanding trend of decline, the study found. But the growth did not affect all Jewish neighborhoods equally. Two-thirds of the rise was propelled by two deeply Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn with high birthrates — Williamsburg and Borough Park. Some of the city’s more affluent areas, like Brownstone Brooklyn and the Upper East Side, saw declines in their Jewish population, according to the study.
The study is based on telephone interviews conducted in 2011 in eight counties comprising the greater New York City area.
Interviews took place between February and July 2011. The process entailed dialing approximately 390,000 randomly selected telephone numbers during the screening and interviewing phases of the study. The screening phone calls identified 8,609 Jewish households and interviews were completed with 6,274 respondents, of which 5,993 are included in the interview data file.5 The study obtained a 79% interview cooperation rate.6 (Brief interviews were also conducted with approximately 31,900 non-Jewish households.) 
Interviews were then weighted by several criteria to project out to the total Jewish population of the region.
About three-quarters of the 1.8 million people who live in Jewish households in the New York area live in 1 of 30 distinct geographic areas, the study found. There are as many Jews on the Upper West Side — 70,500 — as there are in all of Cleveland, Dr. Beck reported, and more Jews in central Brooklyn, consisting of Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington, than in all of Baltimore.
Since ultra-orthodox males value religious study over other things, the unemployment rate is high among them (as it is in Israel), leading to fairly high poverty rates within that population. Sadly, at least in my view, high birth rates and poverty represent "tradition."

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