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September 27, 2015 3:31 pm

Israeli Demography Expert Refutes Claim That Baby Boom Is Bad for Jewish State’s Economy

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Yoram Ettinger. The demography expert says Israel's baby boom is good for the economy. Photo: Facebook.

Yoram Ettinger. The demography expert says Israel’s baby boom is good for the economy. Photo: Facebook.

Israel’s population explosion is cause for economic optimism, not woe, says the author of several studies on the demographic make-up of and forecast for the Jewish state.

Responding to a report in i24 News on Saturday, according to which Israel’s “baby boom” spells bad news for the tiny country, Yoram Ettinger told The Algemeiner on Sunday that he is not surprised the doomsayers who used to predict Israeli’s downfall due to the Jewish-Arab birthrate ratio are now using evidence that disproves their theories to reach equally bleak conclusions.

“It is crucial to note that the trend of Jewish fertility is higher than that of Arab fertility,” said Ettinger, a consultant on U.S.-Israel relations and chairman of special projects at the Ariel Center for Policy Research. “In addition, among Jews in Israel, ultra-Orthodox fertility is decreasing, while secular fertility is exploding.”

Citing statistics released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), showing that Israel’s birthrate is the highest among developed countries – with more than three children per mother – the article asserts that Israel is headed for disaster.

“The effect on the Israeli economy is growing, mostly spurred by Arab women who are encouraged to stay at home with their families and ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who devote their lives to studying the Torah rather than work,” it claims, and quotes President Reuven Rivlin recently stating that “from an economic viewpoint, the current reality is not viable.”

In addition, “CBS demographer Ari Paltiel told Reuters that Israel ‘would go bankrupt’ unless the levels of employment and contributions to social security funds were changed.”

Ettinger disagrees.

Israel is the only advanced economy endowed with a fertility rate above three babies per woman. All the others – with the exception of the U.S., which has a rate of about 2.1 babies per woman — have a rate below two babies per woman. This means that all other advanced economies will have fewer people in a generation than they have today, unless they import a very significant percentage of their population from Third World countries – something that may not be a proper response to economic needs, and certainly would aggravate social and homeland-security problems which could become lethal.

Israel will have a sufficient number of working hands through its own fertility rate to manage a growing and expanding economy. On top of that, the ultra-Orthodox population in Israel is increasingly and rapidly integrating into the economic and academic sectors, which has dramatically enhanced its contribution to the country’s economy.

Furthermore, Israel does have sufficient space to handle the growth-driven rise in the number of people. For instance, buildings having 25-35 stories could be erected, as opposed to the current situation, in which most do not exceed eight floors. That potentially would more than double the potential area for population in the country.

The bottom line, said Ettinger, is that Israel is “a high-tech-driven economy with a population growth that is not only quantitative but qualitative – and this constitutes the most important engine of economic and national-security growth, due to the simple fact that there will be many more intelligent people to fill important positions. Either way, a significant population growth, both by fertility and net immigration – where immigration exceeds emigration — is a phenomenon that provides Israel with an added element of deterrence when it comes to its neighbors who hope to achieve an Arab majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”


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  • Bernard Herman

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.
    The jewish people lost 6,000,000, The Russians, Poles,Germans,etc .etc.also lost. To the best of my knowledge they have recouped their losess. Have we??? I don’t think so. It is too expensive to educate a Jewish child. But we don’t seem to lack funds for exorbitant Bar mitzvas , weddings, vacations, two cruises a year.For shame on us.

  • theo

    The increased and increasing birth rate among Israeli Jews augurs well for the nation and not the opposite
    Countries ,Europe in particular ,are in decline where families have few children This is an indisputable fact !
    Big families are a sign of optimism for the future and also a blessing They also hold great prospects for the future

  • keep the jewish population going,every other country is growing . we dont want to such a small minority. the more the better for all jews.

  • Robert Davis

    oecd as well as all french sponsored stories have one priority which is destabilize Israel and hand it out toarabs. So every prentence is good for this Policy. I would not be surprised that today’s sun-moon-earth aligned position makes them say it is…bad for Israel! This will go on as long as arab refugees they call “palestinians” squat Israel and Israel’s “leaders” keep ignoring this reality.

  • I fully agree with Yoram’s assessment. An educated growing population is a national asset, not a liability, especially in this age when the knowledge and information economy is the greatest source of economic growth.

  • Benjamin F.

    Excellent article. Ettinger is correct and his message is very important.

  • grace

    I concur with the author, and every bible believing Jew or christian will concur with this. the Lord has said he will multiply his people, he will also cause rain and rivers in the wilderness so that his people will have enough to eat.He says there will be enough fruits for his people. so its not what the Jew haters said, or students of this or that, no it is the word of the ELOHIM ADONAI that shall stand. it doesnt matter whether they divide the land or not, before they have even thought of the borders of the divided land, the Lord of Sabaoth is coming with his armies to judge them. lets wait and see.

  • Harry

    i don’t buy his reasoning. he isn’t even using numbers to back his statements.

  • Arthur Cohn

    Ettinger has a record of being correct, as opposed to his detractors. I hope that more of the Haredi community turn to more economically productive work as well as their talmudic studies.

  • This is how Europe should be acting, encouraging our community to have children, rather than import Moslem immigrants. Scandinavia needs to do the same thing. Why women have foregone having children for careers has affected the future of Europe. Each couple needs to reproduce themselves at least once in order to keep the population at a realistic level. Importing uneducated, violent, barbaric moslems will not solve our problems in Europe, but cause chaos and violence. I personally believe Germaine Greer and her bra burning buddies have a lot to answer for. There will always be a small minority of women who are destined for careers but frankly none of them in my opinion are capable of making serious commercial decisions until at least 45 as for government leadership positions a minimum age of 55 and well beyond child bearing years. Our first obligation as women is to ensure the birth rate. Our children nurtured for their first five years. Thereafter we can pursue our own careers – assuming one starts motherhood from 21 on average it means we are not properly free to pursue careers for at least 10 to 15 years bringing us to a minimum age of 40. There will always be exceptions but out of loyalty to our nations we must reproduce.

    • Vivienne Shalom, I hear your comment often when I visit Canada or the US : A woman has to choose between a “career” and family. I find that difficult to understand. In our community I did a quick survey:
      – the average number of live births per woman on our street is five!
      – although it is possible that some of these women ( like my wife) took some time off work ( occasionally years ) I could only find two women whom neither my wife nor I know if they work outside the house
      Amongst the obvious employment possibilities as secretary, teacher or store keeper we can point to:
      Two doctors, a supreme Court judge, three university professors, a couple of journalists, researchers, cartographer, architect, engineer, agronomist . . . I could go on but I think my point hopefully has been made.

      Whether the reality of woman working and raising a family is the result of necessity or a cultural empowerment of Israeli society, or both, is moot. You don’t raiuse five plus children, adopt two others and become a professor, judge, physician or scientific researcher unless you believe in both and believe it is possible to have both.

      Or maybe that’s the rub, maybe these women have never been told that it is impossible to have both . . . 😉

  • Eric R.

    Better this problem than too low a fertility rate. Just ask the Europeans and Japanese how THAT’S working out…..