Judaism: Growth in Numbers, Not Percentage
Judaism is a religion practiced by Jewish individuals. The global Jewish population was estimated at around 14 million in 2010. However, the Jewish identity is often a highly contested topic that makes accurate population counts difficult to establish. The term "Jewish" can be applied to both practitioners of the religion as well as people with Jewish ancestry who do not practice the religion. This article uses information from the Pew Research Center, which considers only those individuals who identify their religion as Jewish. Roughly 41% of these individuals live in the United States, while another 40.5% live in Israel, which is the only country in the world where the Jewish population makes up the majority.
According to the Pew Research Center, the global Jewish population is expected to grow to around 16 million by the year 2050. This number will represent approximately 0.02% of the worldwide population, which is about the same as it is now. This article takes a closer look at the Jewish population changes expected to occur by 2050 and some of the countries that are expected to have the largest Jewish populations in the world.
Regional Population Changes
Although the overall Jewish population is expected to increase around the world, the only area where the percentage of total Jews will increase as a percentage of the regional population is Israel.
Jews as a percentage of the global population, however, is expected to decrease. This decrease is expected to occur because the Jewish population will have a slower growth rate than the rest of the global population. For example, 1.42 million Jews (10% of the Jewish global population) currently live in Europe, making up only 0.2% of the European population. By 2050, that population will drop to 1.2 million, but will still constitute 0.2% of the European regional population. The total Jewish population is also expected to decrease in both Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, although the percentage of the regional population will remain unchanged. In the Asia-Pacific region, the Jewish population is expected to increase from its current total of 200,000 to 240,000 by 2050. That increase is not enough, however, to keep up with the global increase and will not change the Jewish representation within the regional population. The remainder of this article discusses the countries which are expected to have the highest Jewish populations in 2050. All countries are located in the North African-Middle Eastern and North American regions: Israel, the United States, and Canada.
Countries Projected to Have the Largest Jewish Populations in 2050
Currently, Israel has the second largest Jewish population, at 5.61 million. As mentioned, this represents nearly 41% of the global Jewish population and is the largest religious majority in the country. This population size also represents roughly 1.6% of the total North African-Middle Eastern regional population. By 2050, the total Jewish population size in Israel will increase to 8.18 million, making it the largest Jewish population in the world. In fact, this number will represent just over half of the world’s Jewish population (50.8%). Within the region, however, Jews will make up less of the population, at only 1.4%. This is because the other religions and ethnicities living in this area are expected to increase at a much faster rate.
Israel has a special significance to Jews around the world, since the country was established post-World War II, when Jews were persecuted by the Nazi regime. The intent behind the country's creation was to recognize the area as the ancestral home of Jewish people and to provide them with a safe haven against persecution. Jews from other countries seeking residence in Israel are given preferential status by local immigration laws.
2. United States
The United States currently has the largest Jewish population in the world, with around 5.69 million individuals. This is a slightly higher percentage of the global Jewish population than that found in Israel, at approximately 41%. As a percentage of the total North American population, however, Jews in the US represent just less than 1.8% (when combined with the total Jewish population in Canada, that number is exactly 1.8%). By 2050, the total Jewish population size in the country will experience a small decrease to 5.36 million, making it the second largest population of Jews in the world. This decrease, when considered with the changes expected in Canada (discussed below), will mean the North American Jewish population will make up only 1.4% of the total regional population.
Approximately 90% of the Jewish community in the US is made up of Ashkenazi Jews, while Sephardic, Mizrahi, and converted Jews make up the remaining 10%. Very small numbers of Jews have lived in present-day US since the 18th century. Larger numbers of Jews began to arrive in this country during the wave of German immigration of the mid-19th century. Jewish immigration to the US continued to grow throughout the 20th century.
Canada currently has the third largest Jewish population in the world. Approximately 350,000 Jews live in Canada, which represents only around 2.5% of the global Jewish population. This population, combined with the US population, means that Jews make up 1.8% of the total North American population. By 2050, the total Jewish population of Canada will increase to 560,000, which is not enough growth to offset the decrease expected in the US, which means that Jews in North America will only make up 1.4% of the total regional population.
The reason the Jewish population in Canada is significantly smaller than in the US his explained by the history of immigration laws in North America. During colonialization, only Catholics were permitted to immigrate to French-colonized areas. This changed by the late 18th century, however, when Montreal had the largest Jewish population in Canada. During the late 19th century, most of the global Jewish population was living throughout the Russian and German Empires, where they faced significant discrimination and violence. Just before World War I, many of these Jews immigrated to Canada, and over time helped settle the Upper and Lower regions of the country. Today, the largest concentration of Jews in Canada is found in Toronto (188,710), followed by Montreal (90,780).