For the first time, Israeli Jews and Arabs have the same birthrate. Statistics released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics in honor of International Children’s Day show that Jewish and Arab women both bear an average of 3.13 children, with the Jewish birthrate increasing and the Arab rate decreasing.
In 2000, the gap in favor of Arabs was significant, with the Arab birthrate at 4.3 children per mother, and the Jewish rate at 2.6. By the end of 2015 the rates had evened out.
As of the beginning of 2016, there were 2,798,000 children age 17 and under in Israel, one third of the total Israeli population. Of those, 71.3 percent, or 1,996,000, are Jewish, and 25.7 percent, or 718,000, are Arab. Three percent, or 84,000, are classified as “other,” neither Jewish nor Muslim or Christian Arab.
Among large cities (population 100,000 or more), Yerushalayim has one of the country’s youngest medians, with 40 percent of the population 17 and under, although the percentage in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh is higher. In Tel Aviv, by contrast, children constituted just 20.8 percent of the population; in Haifa it was 23 percent.
Overall, the town with the highest percentage of children is Modi’in Illit, where 64.4 percent of the population is 17 and under. Next in line are two other chareidi towns, Beitar Ilit (62.8 percent) and Elad (60.5 percent). In Kochav Yaakov, young people made up 55.8 percent of the population. Also topping the list are Bedouin towns, including Hura (57.7 percent), Arara-Negev (56.5 percent), Kasfiya (54.4 percent) and Rahat (53.1 percent).
The towns with the lowest numbers of children were largely the old-line suburbs of Tel Aviv and Haifa, including Kiryat Yam (20.4 percent), Bat Yam (20.9 percent), Nesher (22.1 percent), Ramat Gan (22.2 percent), Kiryat Motzkin (22.5 percent) and Kiryat Bialik (23.1 percent).