Majority of adult American Jewish pop. found in three states

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October 18, 2019

There are almost 7.5 million Jewish-identifying individuals in the United States, according to a study published by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute in July 2019. The study added that Jewish people are also older and more educated than the average American.

The American Jewish Population Project (AJPP) was founded in 2005 and is currently being led by Dr. Leonard Saxe, director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. After its founding, the study has been an ongoing process, which is updated every two years. 


Saxe told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview that although he is no longer surprised by the results of the study, the usual response to it is surprise. 

“In every generation or in every era of Jewish history the Jewish community has thought that they would be the last Jews to live,” continued Saxe, so when these expectations are not met, and statistics support that, people are surprised.

The study found that 4.4 million adults, or 1.8 percent of the total U.S. population, identifies as Jewish when asked about their religion. There are also an additional 1.5 million Jewish adults that identify with no religion and 1.6 million children under the age of 18 who are being raised Jewish. 

Almost half of all Jewish adults also specifically reside in just three states in the U.S.: New York (21 percent), California (14 percent) and Florida (12 percent). These adults are also older and have more education than the average American: 26 percent of Jewish adults are over 65 years old, compared to 21 percent of U.S. adults. Fifty-nine percent of Jewish adults are college graduates, compared with 29 percent of U.S. adults. Also, 89 percent of Jewish adults identify as white, non-Hispanic individuals, compared with just 66 percent of U.S. adults. 

According to the study’s summary and highlights, “AJPP synthesizes data from nationally representative surveys of the U.S. population to produce estimates of the Jewish population in the contiguous U.S.” The estimates are based on the proportion of U.S. adults who identify as Jewish individuals. According to a Jewish Star article, data was collected from around 150 independent surveys, which sampled a total of about 234,000 adults, in the contiguous United States. 

The researchers also took data from those surveys, which were selected from different spheres, trying to minimize sample bias, which include questions about an individual’s religion. They then synthesize the results, making conclusions about the Jewish population in the United States and how it has changed in the last two years, according to Saxe. 

The study adds that AJPP is “the only independent source of data to provide sociodemographic characteristics of the population for the entire contiguous U.S., its states, metropolitan areas, and counties in an ongoing program of research.” 

Since religion is not included on the United States Census, the government is unable to provide information on how many people identify as Jewish, which is why the study is conducted, Saxe told The Hoot. These statistics help provide better services for the population and understand its general dynamics. Furthermore, there have been many instances where people have misconceptions of the environment they live in, and these studies help inform them.

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