Muslim Growth Rate Dropping

Census shows 1.16 million Israeli Muslims at the end of 2007. The community's growth rate is steadily dropping.

Maayana Miskin,

Muslims praying
Muslims praying
Flash 90

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published statistics relating to Israel's Muslim community on Monday in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha. There were 1.16 Muslims living in Israel at the end of 2007, the CBS found, and the community's growth rate is steadily declining.

The Muslim community grew by 33,000 in 2007. The growth rate in 2007 was 2.8 percent - a significant decrease from previous growth rates of 3.8 in 2000 and 3.0 in 2005. The growth rate remains higher than that of any other community in Israel, however.

The plurality of Israel's Muslim population resides in the northern part of the country. Fourteen percent live in Haifa, and 38.5 percent live elsewhere in the north.

More than 20 percent of Israeli Muslims live in Jerusalem, where they constitute one-third of the population. Eleven percent live elsewhere in the central district, and 14 percent live in the Negev.

The city with the highest Islamic population is Jerusalem, with an estimated 248,000 Muslims. In second and third place were Nazareth and Um el-Fahmm, with 45,000 and 43,000 Muslim residents respectively.

The Muslim population is relatively young. Forty-two percent of Israeli Muslims are age 14 or younger, and only three percent are over the age of 65.

Bureau analysts explained that the Muslim population's youth results from its high fertility rate. Muslim women living in Israel had an average of 3.9 children at the end of 2007. The average number of children per Muslim family has dropped dramatically in recent years, from over 4.7 in 2000 to its current position at less than four.

The Muslim fertility rate is much higher than that of non-Muslim communities in Israel. The rate is 2.8 in Jewish communities, 2.5 in Druze communities, and 2.1 among Christians.

The Israeli Muslim fertility rate is also higher than that in neighboring majority-Muslim countries: Jordan and Syria each have a 3.2 rate, Egypt's is 3.0, and in Lebanon it is 2.2.

Jewish Growth Up
Statistics regarding Israel's Jewish community were released earlier in the year prior to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana. The census showed that Jewish women had an average of 2.8 children in 2007, up from 2.75 the year before. While Jewish fertility rates continued to climb, the number of Jewish adults remaining single in their 20s grew as well, analysts found.

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