'Rise in single mothers giving birth'

Statistics bureau: Some 4,900 single Jewish women in Israel gave birth in 2010, nearly double the number who gave birth in 2000.

February 23, 2012 04:59
2 minute read.
Mother and child

Mother and child. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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The number of single Jewish women opting to become mothers has increased dramatically over the past decade, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The data, which were published to coincide with Family Day celebrated nationwide on Thursday, shows that some 4,900 single Jewish women in Israel gave birth in 2010, nearly double the 2,600 single women who gave birth in 2000. The increase can be linked to advances in medical technology and the country’s policy of making fertility treatment widely available and free.

The number of mothers raising children without any partner has doubled from 8,000 women in 2000 to more than 16,000 women in 2010.

Overall, there were 1.8 million families in Israel in 2010 (the most recent year where complete population statistics are available), compared to 1.5 million in 2000. Out of the 1.8 million families in 2010, 1.45 million were defined as Jewish (81 percent), while 303,000 (17%) were Arab.

Of those 1.8 million families, roughly 107,000 are headed by a single parent, with more than 185,000 children under the age of 17 living in such households. Single parent families constitute 6% of the total, which is also a significant increase from the 90,000 families in 2000.

Ninety-one percent of single parent families with young children are headed by a woman: 57% are single mothers because of divorce, 16% are women who chose to give birth without a partner, 15% are separated from their spouse and the rest are widows.

The traditional family structure is still very much the norm – 96% of couples are officially married, while the remaining 4% are couples who have chosen to share their lives without traditional approval.

The small proportion of unmarried couples or those living in common law relationships is significantly less than in Denmark (23%), the Netherlands (19%), the United States (10%), Spain (10%) and Italy (5%).

The Central Bureau of Statistics data also showed that the size of Israel’s families is shrinking slightly, with the average number of family members at 3.74, compared to 3.76 a decade ago. More than half of the families here include two parents and children under the age of 17.

Jewish families averaged 3.5 people and Arab families averaged 4.9 people in 2010.

More than a third of Arab families had six people or more, compared to only 10% of Jewish families.

The average family in 2010 had 2.4 children – 2.3 children among Jews and 2.9 children among Arabs.

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