Haredim set to make up 16% of Israel's population by 2030 - annual IDI report

A new report highlights trends in Israeli ultra-Orthodox society regarding lifestyle, standard of living, education and other fields.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family takes part in the Tashlikh ritual, to symbolically cast away sins, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, in Ashdod, Israel, October 3, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family takes part in the Tashlikh ritual, to symbolically cast away sins, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, in Ashdod, Israel, October 3, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Israel's ultra-Orthodox population is expected to account for 16% of the country's total population by 2030, a new report from the Israel Democracy Institute has found.

The Israel Democracy Institute on Monday published its seventh annual report on ultra-Orthodox society, which shows recent trends in haredi society regarding lifestyle, the standard of living, employment, education, social mobility and leisure.

According to the report, the ultra-Orthodox population in Israel currently stands at around 1,280,000 people and is the fastest-growing population group in Israel with a growth rate of 4%.

The ultra-Orthodox community in numbers

The two main cities in which haredi Israelis choose to live are Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, the report found, stating that, as of 2020, 26% of ultra-Orthodox Jews lived in Jerusalem and 16.6% in Bnei Brak.

Other popular suburbs for ultra-Orthodox Jews include Modi'in Illit, Beitar Illit and Elad. Additionally, 12.4% of haredi Jews in Israel choose to live in mixed cities such as Ashdod, Petah Tikva, Haifa, Rehovot, and Netanya.

Population forecasts, by population group, 2022-2061 (absolute number) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE)Population forecasts, by population group, 2022-2061 (absolute number) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE)

Getting educated

Regarding education in the haredi sector, the IDI report found that there were 373,000 ultra-Orthodox students under the age of 18 during the 2021-2022 school year, making up 19.5% of all students in Israel.

74% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis study in ultra-Orthodox institutions that are informally recognized by the state, 22.5% are “exempted” and 3.5% are State-Haredi schools, which are state-funded and teach a core curriculum.

Moreover, 59% of ultra-Orthodox girls in 2019-2020 took the matriculation exams, compared to 31% in 2008-2009. In contrast, however, only 15% of boys took the exams and only 14% of ultra-Orthodox students overall were eligible for a certificate, compared to 83% of other Jewish Israelis.

Notably, the number of ultra-Orthodox students in higher education institutions increased by 235% between 2009 and 2022, and haredi students make up 10.5% of all students in Israel.

Employment rates increase, but slowly

In 2002, around one third of all ultra-Orthodox men were employed, and slightly over half of all ultra-Orthodox women were as well. However, in 2015, a turning point was reached and today, 51% of ultra-Orthodox men are employed and 80% of women.

In spite of the significant increase in 2015, the rate of employment for haredi men has remained stagnant for the last few years, although an incomplete dataset from 2022 shows that it may have reached as high as 53.5%.

High poverty rates

The report also noted that in 2019, the poverty rate among ultra-Orthodox Jews (44%) was twice the rate among other Israelis (22%) and the average monthly income of ultra-Orthodox households was only NIS 14,121, compared to NIS 21,843 among other Jewish Israeli households.

Less Haredim than ever serve in the IDF

The number of ultra-Orthodox Israelis performing civil or military service decreased in recent years,  with only 1,193 men serving in the military and 495 in civil service in 2020.

 A SOLDIER and haredi man pray at the Western Wall. (credit: David Cohen/Flash90) A SOLDIER and haredi man pray at the Western Wall. (credit: David Cohen/Flash90)

Haredim log on online

According to the report, more ultra-Orthodox Jews are using the Internet than ever before, with 66% of ultra-Orthodox Jews reporting that they use the internet in any capacity. The number is still significantly behind wider Israeli society, however, of whom 94% use the internet.

Volunteer and charity work

Finally, the report noted that 40% of ultra-Orthodox Jews volunteer for community service and 86% donate to charity, while 23% of other Jewish Israelis volunteer for community service and 58% donate to charity.

The impact of COVID-19 on haredi life

Dr. Lee Cahaner and Dr. Gilad Malach, who edited the report, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Internet use among haredim.

“The new report provides the first overview of ultra-Orthodox society after COVID-19 and during the previous coalition government, which did not include any ultra-Orthodox parties,” they said.

“The upheaval created by the pandemic, which led to a dramatic increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox internet users, remains unchanged, and two-thirds of the Haredim today regularly use the internet. We see an increase in the proportion of working women and incomplete data for 2022 indicates an increase in the proportion of working men.”

Changing trends in the ultra-Orthodox world

Cahaner and Malach also noted the persistent employment gap between ultra-Orthodox and other Jewish communities.

"Challenges of real integration in employment remain: the gaps in types of employment between ultra-Orthodox and other Jews have not narrowed in recent years and ultra-Orthodox are still concentrated in high percentages in education and welfare – and much less so in industry and high-tech,” they explain.

“Looking to the future, the report also shows mixed trends: on the one hand, an increase in the number of Haredi academics (though most of them degrees in education), and on the other hand, a rapid increase in technological training, which may also affect employment and wages of their graduates in the future,” Cahaner and Malach said.

“Time will tell how the new government and the fact that representatives of ultra-Orthodox parties now hold significant positions of power will affect these trends.”