An investigation of the unexpectedly high fertility of secular, native-born Jews in Israel

Barbara S. Okun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Secular, native-born Jews in Israel enjoy the socio-economic status of many affluent populations living in other democratic countries, but have above-replacement period and cohort fertility. This study revealed a constellation of interrelated factors which together characterize the socio-economic, cultural, and political environment of this fertility behaviour and set it apart from that of other advanced societies. The factors are: a combination of state and family support for childbearing; a dual emphasis on the social importance of women's employment and fertility; policies that support working mothers within a conservative welfare regime; a family system in which parents provide significant financial and caregiving aid to their adult children; relatively egalitarian gender-role attitudes and household behaviour; the continuing importance of familist ideology and of marriage as a social institution; the role of Jewish nationalism and collective behaviour in a religious society characterized by ethno-national conflict; and a discourse which defines women as the biological reproducers of the nation. Supplementary material for this article is available at:

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)239-257
Number of pages19
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Population Investigation Committee.


  • Israel
  • familism
  • family-size ideal
  • fertility
  • nationalism
  • parity
  • religion
  • religiosity


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