Jewish wedding (illustration)
Jewish wedding (illustration)iStock

A new report has found that members of Israel's haredi community are increasingly pushing off marriage in order to focus on their careers, a trend which could have significant long-term effects on both the Israeli economy and the demographics of Israel's fasting growing community.

According to the report put out by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, the number of non-married haredi women between the ages of 20-29 has increased from 20% to 33% in the last ten years.

In addition, 56% of haredim between the ages of 20-25 are now single, up from the 39% in 2003-2004. The report contends that haredim are increasingly pushing off marriage in order to focus on academic studies and their professional future in what observers call a sea change in the historically marriage-centered community.

"It used to be that a young haredi person didn’t have the option of [secular] higher education, so the path was clear – marrying young," Israel Democracy Institute researcher Dr. Gilad Malach told Haaretz. "Today, when there are many possibilities, a fair number choose to earn a degree, find a good job and marry after that has been accomplished."

These numbers could have an effect in tempering the rapid growth the haredi community has been experiencing. The haredi community makes up 12% of Israel's population and a 2016 report found that Israel’s haredi population is likely to surge past the country’s Arab population by mid-century – and become the single largest religious group among Israeli Jews.

While there has not yet been a drop off in the haredi fertility rate, experts say that, in general, women who marry later are likely to have fewer children. This is not necessarily transferrable to haredi womeb, but "if a woman marries at 20 and has an average of seven children, she completes her childbearing in her mid-30s, and at 40 she is already marrying off the next generation. But if she marries at 27, she finishes giving birth only at 40 and is in her mid-50s when she starts marrying off her children," said report co-author Maya Choshen.