Written by leading Jewish demographers Professor Sergio DellaPergola and Dr Daniel Staetsky, the Chair and Director of JPR’s European Jewish Demography Unit respectively, it explores how the European Jewish population has ebbed and flowed over time. It begins as far back as the twelfth century, travelling through many years of population stability, until the tremendous growth of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, followed by the dramatic decline prompted by a combination of mass migration and the horrors of the Shoah. Extraordinarily, after all this time, the proportion of world Jewry living in Europe today is almost identical to the proportion living in Europe 900 years ago.
Using multiple definitions of Jewishness and a vast array of sources to determine the size of the contemporary population, the study proceeds to measure it in multiple ways, looking at the major blocs of the European Union and the European countries of the Former Soviet Union, as well as providing country-by-country analyses, ranging from major centres such as France, the UK, Germany and Hungary, to tiny territories such as Gibraltar, Monaco and even the Holy See.
The report also contains the most up-to-date analysis we have on the key mechanisms of demographic change in Europe, touching variously on patterns of migration in and out of Europe, fertility, intermarriage, conversion and age compositions. While the report itself is a fascinating and important read, the underlying data are essential tools for the JPR team to utilise as it supports Jewish organisations across the continent to plan for the future.
Whilst the Austrian Jewish population is small, its projected growth constitutes an important finding in European Jewish demography. The Jewish population of Europe has declined dramatically over the past century and a half, particularly as a result of mass migration and the Holocaust. Yet today, in several European countries, demographers are beginning to see signs of growth, driven particularly by high birth rates in the strictly Orthodox population. This study provides an important example of this phenomenon.
The report is a publication of JPR’s European Jewish Demography Unit, an initiative established in 2019 to produce new data to support Jewish community planning across Europe. Funded by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, the Unit is working to produce country-specific reports annually, and this study about Austria is the first of these.
The report draws on three major sources of data: the 2001 Austrian Census, comprehensive records of the Austrian Jewish community and a survey carried out by a JPR/Ipsos consortium in 2018 for the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
Key findings include:
Today the core Jewish population of Austria is estimated to be just above 10,000. The ‘core Jewish population’ consists of people who would explicitly identify themselves as Jews. This is the highest number of Jews observed in Austria since the 1960.
According to the Israeli Law of Return – which uses a broader definition to determine who is entitled to migrate to Israel and immediately apply for Israeli citizenship – the eligible Jewish population in Austria is currently about 20,000.
The core Jewish population constitutes 0.1% of the total population of Austria. 64% of all Austrians are Roman Catholics, 17% are unaffiliated in religious terms, and 8% are Muslims.
The Jewish population of Austria is growing and may reach 11,000-12,000 by the mid-2030s.
About 86% of all Austrian Jews reside in Vienna. Only 19% of all Austrians live in Vienna
The average number of children that a Jewish woman in Austria is expected to have in her lifetime is 2.5; strictly Orthodox Jewish women have 6–7 children per woman, on average, while non-strictly Orthodox Jewish women typically have about 2. The average among Austrian women in general is 1.5.
Migration has been a powerful factor of growth in the Austrian Jewish population. Jews born in Israel constitute about 20% of Jews in Austria today.
About 78% of Jewish households in Austria are affiliated with the Jewish community through membership of its representative organisation. Compared to other communities around the world, this is a very high level of affiliation.
About 30% of Jews in Austria identify as ‘Orthodox’ or ‘Traditional’ and 19% as ‘strictly Orthodox.’ 15% identify as ‘Reform/Progressive’ and 19% as ‘just Jewish.’ Austrian Jewry has one of the highest proportions of strictly Orthodox Jews of all European Jewish communities.
Due to their high fertility, the strictly Orthodox represent the main engine of population growth for the Jewish community as a whole. For the same reason, their share in the Jewish population is expected to increase significantly in the medium term.
About two thirds (70%) of partnered Austrian Jews have a Jewish partner.
About 70% of all Jewish children of compulsory school age in Austria attend Jewish schools. While 100% of strictly Orthodox Jews attend Jewish schools, among the non-strictly Orthodox uptake is still significant – about 52%.
perceptions in Italy – not the largest but one of the oldest Jewish communities in Europe. We
provide a profile of the main characteristics of Italy's Jewish population and review the main
themes and prejudices that have long permeated Italian society and public opinion regarding
Jews in the country. Through a variety of recent sources we document the extant public
knowledge and attitudes about Jews, attitudes about Israel, and perceptions of the diffusion of
antisemitism among the general public. Perceptions of antisemitism among Italian Jews have
been documented separately as part of the FRA study. Our purpose here is to contribute to a
better assessment of the antisemitic syndrome, its sociological and political components,
through the prism of the Italian case. In particular we demonstrate the extent of the
phenomenon in a country where antisemitism, while not rated among the highest in Europe, is
nevertheless a matter of concern. We also compare the actual socio-demographic profile of
the Jewish population with the distorted perceptions of its rivals and detractors.
Demography provides answers to questions such as how many Jews exist in the world? Or in Europe? Or in any particular country of Europe? And where will European Jewry go from here?
The objective of the Unit is to create demographic profiles of European Jewish populations at a country level, documenting their size, structure, composition, patterns of Jewish identity, factors of growth and decline and past and projected trajectories over time. The foundational paper demonstrates the practical sides and uses of demography, with the focus on its use by the Jewish community.
The paper is written in three parts. Part 1 describes what Jewish demography is, as a subject area, and its purpose and value, with specific reference to Jews in Europe. Part 2 explores some of the critiques of demography from the past and present and responds to these by outlining how the data should be used and have been used for highly constructive purposes. Part 3 outlines what the European Jewish Demography Unit will do, and the methods and approach it will take.
This report describes the process and results of a research study on Jewish identity and community participation in Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, it identifies trends among Jewish adults in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania. This two-year and wide-reaching study, examined views on religious observance, Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, Israel, Jewish knowledge, and organizational affiliation among 1,270 Jews, ages 18-60.
This report presents first results of a new series of demographic projections of the Jewish population in the Russian Republic, the largest component of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). The projection extends over a period of 25 years, between the mid-1990s and approaching the year 2020, and portrays different scenarios reflecting the most likely developments to be expected in conformity with a variety of assumptions.
The report,also highlights the particular nature of antisemitism in the country. It indicates that today it is more commonly grounded in political ideologies – from both the left and right – than in religious extremism, suggesting that it is driven both by old style right-wing nationalism, and newer forms of left-wing antipathy informed by a spill-over of incidents in Israel and the Middle East.
The data in the report were gathered and analysed by researchers at JPR, as part of a major study commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2012. The general findings from that study were published in a landmark report in late 2013, but have been analysed afresh in this follow-up study, the second in a series of JPR reports about antisemitism in different European Member States.