Saturday, September 09, 2006

Israeli fertility: The importance of culture   posted by David Boxenhorn @ 9/09/2006 01:12:00 PM

Israel is the only country I know of where fertility increases as income goes up, among "normally" wealthy. (The super-rich might be another story, but they don't have much of a statistical presence). From here:

In virtually the entire modern world, increased wealth and education are linked with plummeting birthrates. The New York Times reported this week that Europe is "wrestling" with birthrates which have "reached a historic and prolonged low... straining pension plans and depleting the work force across the continent." The EU projects a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030. In 1990, no European country had a fertility rate of less than 1.3 children per woman; by 2002, 15 countries did. The "birth dearth" has become a political issue in Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic. "Almost all countries are increasing baby bonuses," the article reports. While the US fertility rate currently hovers around the replacement level of 2.1, the rate among American Jews is considerably lower: 1.86.

Israel is almost another world. The average fertility rate is 2.7 children per woman - by far the highest of any modern democracy in the world. Moreover, the average size of families with a high monthly income - above NIS 50,000 - is 4.3 people, compared to 3.7 for families with more modest salaries.

What's going on here?

ACCORDING TO demographer Sergio DellaPergola, we are different than Europe and America in our attitudes toward family size. "Here, people would like to have three children at least." If they don't, it is generally because of economic restraints, as demonstrated by the fact that, in Israel, the upper-middle class is associated with more children, not fewer.