(JTA) – High birthrates among the haredi Orthodox are responsible for recent growth in the number of British Jews after decades of decline, a new study shows.
The trend was featured in a report published Thursday by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, or JPR, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
According to “Vital statistics of the U.K. Jewish population: Births and deaths,” births in the British Jewish community have exceeded deaths in every year since 2006. Other things being equal, the report’s author wrote, this implies “Jewish demographic growth in the United Kingdom.”
As haredi Jews elevated the average overall for the Jewish community since 1979 – their birthrate is estimated at seven children per woman – the number of deaths within that group decreased noticeably in the same period in connection with improvement in health services and life expectancy.
From 1979 to 2006, the United Kingdom saw an average of 3,165 Jewish births and 3,858 Jewish deaths, according to the study. But in the years 2007 to 2015, the average figures were 3,599 and 3,254, respectively.
“The high fertility rates among the haredi sector are the main reason why we observe the positive natural increase of the Jewish population in the U.K. since 2006,” the report states. Haredi Jews are a growing minority in British Jewry. In 2015, haredi births accounted for 47 per cent of all Jewish births, the report estimates.
The mainstream Jewish birthrate in the United Kingdom is 1.98 children per woman, only slightly above the national average. But combined with the haredim, the total Jewish birthrate in Britain is 2.6 per woman.
A JPR report from 2015 said Britain’s haredi community is increasing by nearly 5 per cent a year while the wider, non-haredi Jewish population is decreasing by 0.3 per cent. Haredim are projected to become the majority group within British Jewry by 2031, according to the 2015 report.
The United Kingdom now has about 250,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.
Government authorities in the United Kingdom do not register religion at birth or death. The latest report used various sources to reach its estimates, including surveys and data from circumcisions. The researchers extrapolated from that data to account for female births “assuming that Jewish birth sex ratios are identical to those in the general population,” the authors wrote.