By The Numbers: 10 Surprising Demographic Facts About U.S. Jews by the Forward

By The Numbers: 10 Surprising Demographic Facts About U.S. Jews

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The Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) released a report last week on “America’s Changing Religious Identity.” Many of the findings were of particular interest to the Jewish community. Below are the 10 most fascinating things we learned about the changing nature of the American Jewish landscape:

1: Jews Are No Longer The Most Educated Religious Group

We may be the people of the book, but we’re not necessarily the most book-smart. As the Forward reported earlier this year, American Jews have the second-lowest level of biblical knowledge of any religious group. The new study shows that while an impressive 34% of Jews have postgraduate degrees, that number is trounced by 38% for Hindus and 43% for Unitarian-Universalists. Similarly, 61% of Jews have either a four-year or postgraduate degree, compared with 69% of Hindus and 65% of Unitarian-Universalists.

2: There Are Twice The Number Of Jews As Muslims — And As Many Mormons as Jews

Though Muslims comprise a quarter of the global population, they make up only about 1% of the U.S. population, while Jews and Mormons each claim a 2% share.

3: Jews Are Pretty Old (Okay, Maybe That’s Not So Surprising)

Over half of Jewish Americans are 50 years old and older, and more than half of that group is over 65. The only older groups are Unitarian-Universalists, white mainline and evangelical Protestants and white Catholics.

4: When It Comes To Affiliation, There’s A Huge Age Divide

Younger Jews are more likely to be “all or nothing” than their older Jewish brethren — Jews aged 18-29 form the largest percentage of both Orthodox Jews and those who identify as “Just Jewish.” In contrast, the 50-plus crowd comprises the majority of Conservative and Reform denominations.

5: A Third Of Jews Identify As Culturally But Not Religiously Jewish

While 1.5% of Americans identify as Jewish by religion, 0.8% of Americans (around one-third of the total) identify as being Jewish by culture only. This includes more than half of Jews under 30.

6: Jews Earn Slightly More Than Average

30% of Jewish Americans earn a household income of more than $100,000 per year (around the top quartile of American earners), and 69% own their own home, both higher rates than the national average. Only 16% of Jews earn less than $30,000 per year (approximately the bottom quartile of American earners), compared to 38% of Muslims and 28% of white evangelicals.

7: But A Quarter Of Jews Are On Government Health Insurance

25% of Jews have government-sponsored health insurance. This may be explained by the fact that around 27% of Jews are over 65 and thus eligible for Medicare.

8: Jews Are More Likely To Be Democrats — Unless They’re Orthodox

A full 47% of Jews identify as Democrats, and only 20% identify as Republicans. Yet only 23% of Orthodox Jews (10% of the Jewish population) identify as Democrats, and 38% identify as Republicans.

Read more on how Jews vote here.

9: Most Jews Are Married But Have No Kids At Home — Unless They’re Orthodox

62% of Jews are married — and 74% of Orthodox Jews are married. However, 71% of Jews also report having no children at home (either because they never had kids or the children moved out). The Orthodox are again an exception: a full 62% report having 3 or more children at home.

10: Jews Are No More Or Less Likely To Be LBGT Than Other Religious Groups

Only 2% of Americans are Jewish and the study found that 2% of LGBT Americans identify as Jews. Nearly half (46%) of LGBT Americans are religiously unaffiliated, roughly twice the American average of 24%.

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s contributing network editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @Laura_E_Adkins

Correction, October 18, 11:42 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that 6% of LGBT Americans identify as Jewish. In fact, 6% of LGBT Americans identify as Jewish (2%), Buddhist (2%), Muslim (1%) or Hindu (1%).


Laura E. Adkins

Laura E. Adkins

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s Opinion Editor. Follow her on Twitter @Laura_E_Adkins or email

10 Surprising Demographic Facts About U.S. Jews

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