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Israel’s Muslim community grows by 2.5 percent, marrying even younger

As of late 2017, the Muslim population tops 1.5 million, making for some 17.8 percent of Israel’s total population, according to Central Bureau of Statistics.

The president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, hosted, as every year, a meal to break the fast of Ramadan (Iftar) for Muslim leaders and public figures in Israel, on June 12, 2017. Photo Credit: Mark Neyman/GPO.
The president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, hosted, as every year, a meal to break the fast of Ramadan (Iftar) for Muslim leaders and public figures in Israel, on June 12, 2017. Photo Credit: Mark Neyman/GPO.

As of late 2017, the Muslim population in Israel stood at 1.562 million, representing 17.8 percent of the country’s general population. It was also an increase of 38,000 people in relation to the previous year, according to new census figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice).

Similar to the previous three years, the Muslim population in Israel grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in 2017. And while Muslim population growth has waned over the past two decades, it is still the fastest-growing population sector in Israel. For the sake of comparison, the Jewish population grew by 1.7 percent in 2017; the Christian population grew by 2.2 percent and the Druze population saw 1.4 percent growth.

About half of Israel’s Muslim population resides in the country’s north; 35.6 percent in the northern district and 13.8 percent in the Haifa district. Meanwhile, 21.8 percent of the country’s Muslims live in the Jerusalem district, 16.6 percent in the southern district and 11 percent in the central district—of whom 1.1 percent reside in the Tel Aviv district.

Among cities, the greatest concentration of Muslims is in Jerusalem (329,000 people), which is home to 21 percent of all Muslims in Israel, who comprise 36.5 percent of the city’s general population.

The Muslim population is also relatively young—34.4 percent (534,000 people) is under 14 years of age. Only 4 percent of the Muslim population (63,000 people) is over 65 years old.

Additionally, for the first time since the early 2000s, fertility rates (the average number of babies a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) among Muslim women in Israel rose to 3.37 babies. This increase followed a steady decline in fertility rates, from 4.74 babies in 2000 to 3.29 in 2016.

Muslim men were also getting married sooner than their counterparts from other sectors of the population. In 2016 the average age for Muslim men marrying for the first time was 26.5 years old—compared to 27.8 among Jews, 30.1 among Christians and 28.6 among Druze.

Following that trend, Muslim women marrying for the first time were on average 22.5 years old, while Jewish women were 25.9, Christian women were 26.2 and Druze women were 24.5.

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