Good migrations?

A week after the elections, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies confirms what has until now been rumor regarding the decrease in young, non-haredim leaving the city.

Student with laptop at Bezalel library 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Student with laptop at Bezalel library 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Statistics sometimes provide much more than just information. The figures presented by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies on migration to and from Jerusalem could bring very positive tidings indeed.
According to the findings published earlier this week by a team led by Dr. Maya Choshen, co-director of the Jerusalem Research Cluster, the number of young, non-haredi people leaving the city has dropped; the number of haredim of the same age leaving the city has increased; and the number of young non-haredi adults moving to Jerusalem has increased.In Jerusalem respects the right of all religious, ethnic and socioeconomic groups to live in the city, and believes the municipality should provide services for all. IJ does not consider the migration balance of any specific sector to be part of a positive or negative trend, but will relate here to the figures published.
This survey, which is part of the Jerusalem Development Authority’s Marom project, has found that the capital has seen a slight improvement in its negative migration balance between 2009 and 2012. The improvement is especially pronounced among those aged 20-34, an age group of particular focus in the project. The findings also show an increase in the number of students moving to Jerusalem, which is not surprising, considering that the city has the greatest number of higher education institutions in the country, some the best of their kind.
Migration balance is defined as the number of people moving to a city, minus the number of those leaving it. The study found that between 2007 and 2011, the number of people leaving Jerusalem steadily decreased, indicating that while the general migration balance was still negative, it was improving. During that period, 47 percent of those who left Jerusalem and 53% of those who chose to move here were aged 2034.
The average age of those leaving Jerusalem was 25.2; that of new residents was 25.3.
Yair Assaf-Shapira, a researcher on the team led by Choshen, says, “As a rule, migrants are usually young; the younger population is key to a city’s growth. These people are at the beginning of their professional paths. They are starting families, so they are those who create the demand for housing. Their children feed the city’s education system and require the planning to include them in the system. They create and consume culture, and they are the most frequent users of the public sphere; they therefore contribute to the vibrant atmosphere in the city.”
Relating to the issue of the city trying to attract different sectors, he notes that this study was commissioned by the municipality. “The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies deals with studying trends, and as such it is important to us to address some of the claims that are raised periodically by the public and the press, as if Jerusalem is ‘abandoned’ by the secular population,” he says. “It turns out that the trends, as identified by the figures, are more complex, and sometimes the opposite of the way they are presented by the press.”
He adds that all cities experience negative migration, and the destination of those leaving is crucial in defining the character of the city’s metropolitan area. As such, he continues, as far as the city is concerned it is better for residents to move to nearby destinations such as Mevaseret Zion and Beitar Illit than to Tel Aviv.
“On the other hand,” he adds, “there is of course importance in keeping a certain population in the city, both because the population in the target age group enlivens the city and is an indication of the city’s attractiveness to that population.”
As for the spike in the number of students in the capital’s higher education institutions, the number rose from 30,300 in the 2008-09 school year to 37,800 in 2011-12. The survey shows that the Jewish neighborhoods that reached the highest positive migration numbers in 2011 were Ramat Sharett and Ramat Denia, followed by Har Homa, Kiryat Moshe, Beit Hakerem, Givat Shaul and Mea She’arim. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality has defined four neighborhoods in the city – French Hill, East Talpiot, Kiryat Hayovel and Katamonim – as having the greatest potential to become the most attractive to young adults moving in. It has thus established some of its most recent projects there aimed at attracting more young adults – such as Ir Tzeira, a city for the young.
Assaf-Shapira adds that these findings reveal even more. The fact that, according to the study, a balance of 2,000 people between the ages of 20 and 34 left the city in 2012 shows us the continuation of a trend that began after 2009, one year after Nir Barkat became mayor. Until then, a record balance of 3,000 young residents had left the city.
But today, the picture is even more positive in terms of the capacity of this city to promote and experience resilience.
“Now we see that not only have more non-haredi young adults decided to remain here, but we also clearly see that more people of the same ages decide to move to Jerusalem. That is a clear indication that Jerusalem’s image has dramatically changed in the eyes of the public,” he says.
Assaf-Shapira further explains that if young adults – on the verge of creating a family or already with young children – remain here instead of looking for another place to live, “it means that they trust the capacity of this city and its leadership to provide them with what any young adult or young family needs: affordable housing, decent jobs and an attractive cultural environment. These are all issues that appeared about one year after Barkat was elected in 2008, and now we can see this trend growing.”
But Assaf-Shapira says that the most interesting finding may be that some young adults who are not natives of Jerusalem or had left for many years have moved back during the last three years – and most of them are not haredim. In general, adds Assaf-Shapira, more haredim of all ages, but mostly the young adults, leave the city, primarily because their problem is affordable housing, which they cannot afford since they do not work for a living.
The first appearance of the trend, says Assaf-Shapira, happened right after Barkat took office. While hard to define in numbers, there were enough indications that with the election of a young and secular mayor, large numbers of young families decided to hold off a little on their plans to leave the city.
Results of the trend were evident in kindergarten and primary school registration, where the drop first stopped among the secular and national-religious, and then, since last year, began to go in the opposite direction, with registrations rising.
But according to this recent survey, it is clear that the trend is seeing still more significant change – with fewer young adults leaving the city, more haredim than secular or religious among those who still leave, and an increase in the number of non-haredi young adults opting to move into the city, many of them students.
Figures for comparison include the following: In 2009, some 3,100 people aged 20-34 left the city on balance; in 2010, some 2,760; in 2011, some 2,750; and in 2012, some 2,130.
In 2012, there were 4,830 non-haredi young adults – the highest number registered – who moved into Jerusalem.
In addition, an analysis of the findings shows that in 2009-10, the number of haredim who left the city was even higher than in the previous years, and by 2012, some 75% of the migration outside of Jerusalem was among young adults from haredi neighborhoods; compared to 25% of the same age group from non-haredi neighborhoods, including both secular and religious.