Religiosity and Fertility: Jews in Israel

Barbara S. Okun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We analyze the relationship between religiosity and fertility among Jews in Israel—a modern democracy in which there is no separation of religion and state. Micro-level data from the 2009 Israel Social Survey are used to perform multivariate analyses of the odds of having at least three children. The findings from separate analyses of women and men are consistent with a theoretical framework, outlined by McQuillan and C. Goldscheider, which suggests how religiosity affects fertility. In particular, measures of the importance of religious community explain in part the higher levels of fertility among some religiosity groups; attitudes toward religion as a social and political institution as well as norms regarding family building over the life course also partly account for the influence of religiosity on fertility. While women’s employment activity is significantly related to their fertility, as many economic theories predict, controlling for paid work in regression models does not affect the estimated relationship between religiosity and women’s fertility. We conclude that, in the current context, fertility variation across religiosity groups can be understood largely in terms of the cultural, political, and institutional power of religion, and the impact of religion through community, and via norms and ideals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)475-507
Number of pages33
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Civil marriage
  • Community
  • Familism
  • Family
  • Fertility
  • Gender roles
  • Ideal family size
  • Institutions
  • Israel
  • Jews
  • Nationalism
  • Parity
  • Religion
  • Religiosity
  • Secular
  • Traditional
  • Ultra-Orthodox


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