Religiosity, nationalism and fertility in Israel

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Abstract

The present paper seeks to re-evaluate explanations for the apparently high level of Jewish fertility in Israel. We suggest that previous explanations, based on ethnic origin or religiosity, are sociologically incomplete, and substitute well established empirical correlational associations for theoretically grounded explanations. We argue that Israel's high fertility stems, directly, from the form and salience of nationalist sentiments in the Israeli conscience collective, which in turn derives from Israel's special position in the Middle East and in the world-economy. Using voting returns from Israel's proportional vote elections, we classify census statistical areas by religiosity and their support for radical nationalist parties. We show that area-level fertility is a function of nationalist support and the area standard of living, and that once these are controlled the effect of religiosity is insignificant. We therefore conclude that the statistical association between fertility and religiosity in Israel is spurious, and that much of the religiosity recorded in fertility surveys is an expression, in consciousness and in the mode of daily living, of a strongly felt nationalist sentiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography

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