Cite: DellaPergola, Family Size Among Jews in Israel


DellaPergola, Sergio. "Actual, Intended, and Appropriate Family Size Among Jews in Israel." Contemporary Jewry 29,2 (2009): 127-152.


Abstract: Israel’s population reflects a unique combination of large-scale immigration and comparatively high fertility. Demographic trends impact on Israel’s regional and global relations. With a current measure of 3.9 children for Muslims and 2.8 for Jews in 2007, Israel’s fertility stands much above European, American, and some Mid-Eastern countries. This article examines fertility patterns and attitudes among Jews (79% of Israel’s total population) based on a 2005 national survey of women and men at reproductive ages, married or in stable unions. Different demographic, socioeconomic and cultural contexts affect Jewish fertility levels in Israel. The impact of countries of origin and socioeconomic differences greatly diminished over time. Cultural factors, primarily religiosity, continue to be important determinants of a relatively high and stable quest for children. We compare actual, intended, and appropriate (according to the self-perception of respondents) family sizes. Diffuse gaps exist between ideal perceptions (focusing on 3–4 children) and actual performances (2–3 children). Significant gaps also exist between intended and appropriate family size, in both directions—the intended being either higher or lower than the perceived appropriate. Analysis of these discrepancies may provide important clues on the determinants of fertility norms and decisions, and on future family policies.




Keywords: Israel: Society, Family Life and Culture, Israel: Demographics, Family Planning, Jewish population, Fertility, Religion, סרג’ו דלה-פרגולה

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