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The fertility gap is especially enormous among Jewish women under the age of thirty-five; even though the gap narrows considerably over the course of the next ten years, at no point do Jewish women attain the fertility levels of their non-Jewish peers or bear children in numbers sufficient to offset population losses from natural causes.It is true that low fertility rates among Jewish women are not a new phenomenon.Until it is confronted, there is little prospect of accomplishing anything beyond hand-wringing.Demographic Vitality How many Jews are there in the United States? Indeed, the very process of counting has become wrapped in controversy.What about the children and the grandchildren of intermarried Jews?If they were not raised as Jews, should they nevertheless be considered part of the Jewish population?For one thing, as the 2000-01 NJPS confirms, Jews marry later than other Americans, with the greatest disparities occurring in the age group between twenty-five and thirty-four.For Jewish women in particular, late marriage means lower rates of fertility compared with other Caucasian women ― who themselves are barely producing babies at replacement level (figured at 2.1 children).
Once upon a time, it was thought by at least some sociologists that intermarriage could prove to be a demographic boon.Economic advancement, the availability of birth control, and rising educational achievement caused Jewish fertility to start dropping as long ago as the middle of the 19th century in Europe and later in other modernizing societies like the United States.Nor, as is well known, is the phenomenon limited to Jews, or to the U.Even before this, however, demographers had come to an impasse over whom to count as part of the Jewish population ― a question necessitated by the increasingly porous nature of American society and the country's generally high rates of intermarriage.For example, should an individual raised as a Christian or as an adherent of an Eastern religion be considered a Jew if he or she had one Jewish parent?To explain this fact, the demographer Frank Mott has pointed to the extraordinary rates of educational achievement among Jewish women, who spend significantly more time than their Gentile peers in programs of higher learning.For many of them, still more childless years follow as they work to advance their careers.S.; in contemporary Europe and Japan, it has reached proportions that threaten catastrophe.Still, Jewish women in the United States are significantly less fertile than their white, Gentile counterparts.Not long ago, a Manhattan rabbi stunned his congregants by informing them that the future of the Jewish people would be secured not through trips to Israel, not through the battle against anti-Semitism, and not through the continued upward mobility of Jews, but in the bedroom.What shocked his sophisticated Upper East Side audience had nothing to do with his allusion to sex; these days, it is perfectly acceptable to speak in public about intimate behavior.