Jerusalem Population Trends Show Continued Shrinkage of Jewish Majority

The latest edition of the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook shows a significant reduction of the city's Jewish majority in relation to its Palestinian population. The report was published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, a Jerusalem-based think tank. It shows that the city's population is significantly younger and poorer than the population of other Israeli cities and its Jewish population is much more religious than that of other Israeli towns. The report, released last month, covers the years 2007-2008. At the end of 2008, the report says, the population of Jerusalem was 763,000, of which 495,000 were Jewish and 268,000 were Palestinians . That means that Jews were about 65% of the city's population (compared to 74% in 1967, when East Jerusalem was captured by Israel, and 72% in 1980). According to the report, most Jerusalemites (60%) - both Israelis and Palestinians - live in East Jerusalem. Of these 444,900 Jerusalemites, roughly 43% reside in neighborhoods that are predominantly Jewish (192,100) and make up 39% of the city's total Jewish population. As in previous years, the 2007 rate of growth of Palestinian Jerusalemites continued to outpace Jewish population growth in the city: 3.2% for Palestinians and 1.3% for Jews. During the forty years of Israel's control over East Jerusalem, the Jewish population in the city grew by 146% (slightly less than the 161% overall growth rate in Israel), while its Palestinian population grew by a whopping 269%, mainly because of a higher natural growth rate. Immigration was almost negligible as a factor in the city's population growth in 2007. Only 2,459 Jewish immigrants settled in Jerusalem in 2007 and only 11,200 new residents moved to Jerusalem from other localities in Israel, while 17,600 moved from Jerusalem to other localities in Israel, a net negative migration balance of 6,400. Jerusalem's Jewish population profile is much more religious than other large towns in Israel. Only 23% of Jerusalemite Jews define themselves as secular (compared with 44% nationally). While Jerusalem's population is much poorer than Israel's overall population, a stark difference between Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem is the level of poverty. In 2007, 67% of the families and 74% of the children in Jerusalem's Palestinian population were living below the poverty line, compared with 23% of the families and 48% of the children in the Jewish population (and compared to 20% of the families and 34% of the children in all of Israel). The Statistical Yearbook is based on data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and on Jerusalem Municipality data.