Israel’s population, currently standing at 8.9 million, is set to reach 10 million by the end of 2024, according to data published Tuesday by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). The forecast is based on estimates of fertility, mortality, and immigration rates.
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In 2017-2018, Israel had a growth rate of 2%, with 175,000 babies born and 43,000 deaths, bolstered by 29,000 incoming immigrants. Most of that growth is driven by Israel’s fertility rate of 3.11 per woman, the highest rate among OECD countries—the OECD average is around 1.7, with Mexico coming in at second place with a much lower rate of around 2.2.
Since 1960, global fertility rates have dropped by half, according to 2016 World Bank data. 59 countries—including Russia, China, and Brazil—now have total fertility rates below the sustaining level. Reasons vary, but religious and social changes, the emergence of birth control and the increasing share of women joining the workforce, and rising childcare and education costs are all considered to play a part.
The change has been most drastic in the Middle East and North Africa, where the average rate has been cut from almost 7 children per woman in 1960 to a little under 3 in 2015. In Israel, by contrast, fertility rates are on the rise according to CBS, in large part due to rising birth rates among Jewish women.
In 2002, the average for Jewish women in Israel stood at 2.64 children, while for Arab women the average was 4.19, increasing the country’s overall fertility rate to 2.89. In 2017, the 3.11 country average was also true for Arab women, but Jewish women were having 3.16 children on average. While the annual growth rate for Israel’s Jewish population has been consistent for years at 1.9%-2%, the growth rate for the country’s Arab population dropped from 3.1% in 1996 to 2.3% in 2017.
In August, hospitals across Israel reported a record number of births, warning maternity wards were exceeding capacity. The months of July and August in the country are characterized by record birth rates, according to CBS.