A new study forecasts that haredim will make up half of the population of Jerusalem in 20 years, "endangering" the pluralistic makeup of the capital. The study, which will be published later this week by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, finds that haredim will make up 44 percent of the city's population in a decade and, if the demographic trends continue, over half of the city's residents by 2030, according to a press release put out earlier in the week by the research center. The demographic forecast, which is much higher than those of previous studies, comes at a time of growing concern among secular residents over the increased "haredization" of Jerusalem. Earlier studies have estimated that the haredi population in the city will stand at 34% in a decade, a spokesman for the Jerusalem think-tank said. Haredim currently make up about one-third of the city's 500,000 Jewish residents. An additional 250,000 Jerusalem residents are Arabs. The research, which examines past demographic trends, concludes that a continuing exodus of thousands of secular Israelis each year in search of better jobs and cheaper housing, coupled with a high birth rate among the haredi public, will endanger both the city's economy and the pluralistic makeup of the capital, the press release said. "If we do not do anything, this is what will happen," said the study's author, Hebrew University economist Prof. Gur Ofer. The study, entitled "A Vision for Jerusalem," proposes a variety of steps to revamp the city's economy and to alter the demographic trends. These include doubling the number of institutes of higher education in the city, as well as implementing joint state and municipal economic ventures. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was elected in November on a ticket pledging economic betterment for all the city's residents, steps to stem the continuing exodus of educated young Israelis from the capital, and efforts to make the city attractive to entrepreneurs and businesses. "The question is, can he do so alone?" Ofer said. Some 300,000 Jewish residents have left the city over the past 20 years, primarily in search of affordable housing and job opportunities. Nearly half of those leaving the capital were young Israelis between the ages of 25 and 34. The study will be released in full on Thursday at a day-long conference at the Jerusalem Institute.

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