Spotlight on Israel
Expected Growth of Israel’s Muslim Population
During the past 20 years, the Muslim population in Israel has more than doubled, growing from 0.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2010, a 103% increase. In the next 20 years, Israel’s Muslim population is projected to increase by 66%, from 1.3 million in 2010 to 2.1 million in 2030. (Israeli population numbers include Muslims living in Jerusalem but not Muslims living in the West Bank and Gaza.)
Israel is the only country in the region where Muslims are currently in the minority. The Muslim share of Israel’s population is projected to increase from 17.7% in 2010 to 23.2% in 2030, a 5.5-point increase. This compares with a 3.6-point increase between 1990 and 2010, when the Muslim share of the population rose from 14.1% to 17.7%.
One reason the Muslim population in Israel is increasing so rapidly is because Muslim women in the country are relatively young and many are in or about to enter their prime childbearing years. In 2008, the median age of Muslim women in Israel was 19, compared with 32 for Jewish women, which reflects the overall youthfulness of Israel’s Muslim population.
Two-thirds of Israeli Muslims are under age 30, according to an analysis of 2009 data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Slightly less than half of Jews and other religious groups are in this age category. The youthfulness of Israel’s Muslim population is evident in the graph at right, which shows that about 40% of Israeli Muslims are under age 15. By comparison, about a quarter of Jews and others (which includes Christians, Druze and those not reporting a religious identity) are in this age group.
On the older end of the age spectrum, 15% of Muslims are age 45 and older, compared with about 33% of Jews and 27% of others. Nearly a fifth of Jews in Israel (16%) are age 60 and older, compared with only 5% of Muslims.
Some segments of the Muslim population in Israel continue to have extremely high fertility rates. For example, Muslim Bedouins from the Southern District, which extends to the Gulf of Aqaba, have about eight children per woman on average. Nevertheless, the average fertility rate among Muslim women in Israel has declined significantly, from a high of about nine children per woman in 1960 to about 3.8 children per woman in 2010. But it is still significantly higher than the average fertility rates for Jewish and Christian women in Israel (2.9 and 2.1 children per woman, respectively). This is the case even though some non-Muslim groups within Israel, including certain groups of Orthodox Jews, also have relatively high fertility rates.
There are six administrative districts within Israel. More than a third of Muslims in Israel (37%) live in the Northern District. A fifth (21%) live in the Jerusalem District, which includes both East and West Jerusalem. Most of the remainder of Israel’s Muslim population live in the Southern District (15%), the Haifa District (14%) and the Central District (11%). Only 1 percent of Israel’s Muslims live in the Tel Aviv District.