27 November 2006
Demographic Situation in Israel 2005
Population, by Population Groups and Religion
In 2005, the population of Israel grew at a rate of 1.8%, and numbered almost seven million
(6.99 million) residents by the end of the year. Of those residents, 5.31 million were Jews
(76.0%), 1.38 million were Arabs (19.7%), and approximately 300,000 (4.3%) were neither
Jews nor Arabs (Others).
82.8% of the Arab population is Muslim, 8.6% is Arab-Christian, and 8.3% is Druze.
90.8% of the population that is neither Jewish nor Arab are not classified by religion in the
population Register. The rest (9.2%) are non-Arab Christians.
The share of the Arab population in Israel in 2005 was slightly higher than in 1948 (18%).
The rapid growth of the Arab population has been offset by the large waves of immigration
during various periods, in which the majority of immigrants were Jewish and the minority
were members of other religions.
Over the last decade, the share of Jews in the Israeli population has been diminishing, due to
a moderate increase in the share of Arabs and an increase in the share of “others” in the
Sources of Population Growth
In 2005, the population of Israel increased by 121,200 residents. This reflects an annual
growth rate of 1.8%. About 86% of the population growth was due to natural increase, and
about 14% was due to the international migration balance.
The population of Jews and others increased by 1.5%. About 83% was due to natural
increase, and about 17% was due to the international migration balance.
Written by Ahmad Hieihel and Norma Gurovich
For explanations and clarifications regarding the contents of this Press Release,
Please contact the Press Relations Unit, at 02-652 7845, 050-623 5124
The Jewish population increased by 1.5%. About 88% was due to natural increase, and
about 12% was due to the international migration balance.
The Arab population increased by 2.7%. About 94% was due to natural increase, and about
6% was due to the international migration balance.
Even though the population growth rate in 2005 was similar to the rate recorded in the
1980s, the relative share of population growth deriving from immigration in 2005 was larger
than that recorded in the 1980s (about 6%).
The Population, by Sex and Age
The population of Israel is considered relatively “young”: In Israel, the proportion of
children aged 0-14 is 28%, compared with an average of 17% in other Western countries. In
the older age groups (aged 65+), the gaps are smaller (about 10% of the Israeli population,
compared with an average of about 15% in other Western countries).
The Muslim population is youngest, and the Jewish population is oldest. The differences in
age composition among population groups derive mainly from differences in fertility levels.
The higher the fertility rate, the larger the share of young people in the population, and the
higher the ratio of men to women. The median age of the Muslim population is 18.6, and the
sex ratio is 103.9 men to 100 women. The median age in the Jewish population is 30.6, and
the sex ratio is 96.7 men to 100 women.
The exception is the population of others, where the oldest median age was recorded (30.9).
The percentage of children aged 0-14 is relatively low (21%), and the percentage of people
aged 65+ is relatively low (5.9%). This age composition derives from the large share of
immigrants in that population group. The low ratio of men to women (87.9 men to 100
women) derives from selective immigration by sex, which does not typify the population of
immigrants (in that population, the percentage of men is usually higher than that of women).
Population Distribution: Density
Population density in Israel is continuing to rise, and is relatively high compared with other
Population density refers to the number of people living in a given area relative to the size of
that area. In 2005, population density in Israel reached about 305 persons per sq km. The
most populated region of Israel, the central region (the Central District and Tel Aviv
District), has the highest average density (1,937 persons per sq. km., compared with only
about 70 persons per sq. km. in the Southern District). Population density data do not
include the Judea and Samaria area.
Population density in certain countries whose physical area is similar to that of Israel was as
follows: 338 persons per sq. km. in Belgium (in 2003), 98 persons per sq. km. in Slovenia,
and 62 persons per sq. km. in Switzerland.
Population density varies in different urban localities in Israel. Population density is
particularly high in large localities (over 100,000 residents) such as Bene Beraq (the city
covers a relatively small area), and Bat-Yam, as well as in smaller localities such as
Givatayyim and Kiryat Motzkin.
Of the five major cities in Israel, Tel-Aviv-Yafo has the highest population density (about
7,315 persons per square km.), followed by Jerusalem (with the largest area – about 5,750
persons per square km.), Haifa (4,192 persons per square km.), Ashdod (4,250), and Rishon
LeZiyyon (an area similar to that of Tel Aviv-Yafo, with about 3,739 persons per square
Population Distribution, by District of Residence
The population of Jews (like the population of “others”) is concentrated in the center of
Israel (about 27% in the Central District, and 20.9% in the Tel Aviv District), and fewer live
on the periphery. The small percentage of Jews in the Northern District (only about 12%) is
By contrast, the Arab population is concentrated on the periphery (about 45% in the
Northern District, and about 11% in the Southern District), with fewer Arabs living in the
central region of Israel (about 9.7% in the Central District, and only 1.2% in the Tel Aviv
In the Jerusalem and Northern districts, the relative share of the population has remained
stable over the years, from the establishment of the State until 2005.
From the establishment of the State until 2005, the relative share of the population in the
Southern District and in the Central District has grown, whereas the relative share of the
population in the Haifa and Tel Aviv districts has declined.
The increase in the relative share of the population in the Southern District can be
attributed primarily to the policy of sending new immigrants to that district during the
various waves of immigration.
The change in the relative share of the population in the Central District can be attributed
to the development of that district, which has attracted populations from surrounding
districts (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa).
The slight changes in the distribution of the Arab population derive from interregional
differences in natural increase rates, and particularly from differences in fertility levels.
The Population of Localities
Over 99% of the Israeli population resides in 1,171 localities that are recognized by the
Ministry of the Interior, and fewer than 1% (about 61,000 residents) live outside of
About 92% of the population resides in 222 urban localities – 140 Jewish and mixed
localities, and 82 Arab localities.
There is segregation between the Arab population and the population of Jews and others in
In urban localities, the segregation is partial. About 27% of the Arab population lives in
Jewish and mixed localities. The majority of the Jewish population lives in Jewish and
In rural localities, segregation is almost total. Nearly all of the Arab population lives in Arab
rural settlements, and nearly all of the population of Jews and others lives in Jewish rural
Jews and Others, By Origin
At the end of 2005, about one-third of the population of Jews and others was born abroad;
about one-third had fathers who were born abroad; and about one-third were born in Israel
to an Israeli-born father.
About one-third of the population of Jews and others consists of at least second-generation
Israelis (Israeli origin); about 40% is of European-American origin (of those, about two-
thirds were born abroad), about 12% is of Asian origin (of those, about one-third were born
abroad), and about 15% is of African origin (of those, about 37% were born abroad).
Marriage, Divorce, and Population by Marital Status
In 2004, 39,855 couples married in Israel and 11,181 couples divorced. Of the couples that
married, 29,969 were Jews, 8,395 were Muslims, 619 were Christians, and 872 were Druze.
Of the couples that divorced, 9,955 were Jews, 1,112 were Muslims, 40 were Christians, and
74 were Druze.
Men and women in Israel marry at a young age in comparison with Western countries (26.9
and 24.5 years for men and women, respectively). Christian men are oldest at the time of
marriage (28.9 years on the average), and Druze grooms were youngest (25.5 years on the
average). Jewish brides were oldest at the time of marriage (25.4 years on the average), and
Muslim brides were youngest (21.8 on the average).
Divorce rates among Jews are double the rates among Muslims (13 per 1,000 men and
women who marry between the ages of 15 and 49 for Jews, versus 6.5 per 1,000 for
Muslims). Divorce rates in 2004 were double the rates recorded at the beginning of the
1960s, among members of all religions.
Most of the population Israelis in their twenties are single, and most of those in their thirties
The percentage of Jewish and Christian men aged 35-39 who remain bachelors (about 12%)
is higher than the percentage among their Muslim and Druze counterparts (6.5% and 9.3%
among Muslims and Druze, respectively).
The percentage of Muslim and Druze women aged 35-39 who remain single (14.2% and
13.6%, respectively) is higher than the percentage among their Jewish and Christian
counterparts (9.6% and 11.7%, respectively).
Birth and Fertility
In 2005, 143,913 infants were born in Israel. Of those, 70% were born to Jewish women,
24% to Moslem women, 3% to women not classified by religion at the Ministry of the
Interior, 2% to Druze women, and 1% to Arab-Christian women.
The average number of children that a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime (the total
fertility rate) is 2.8. The total fertility rate among women in the population of Jews and
others amounts to about one less child in comparison with Arab women (2.6 for Jews and
others, versus 3.7 for Arabs).
Fertility rates are highest among Muslim women (4.0), and lowest among women not
classified by religion at the Ministry of the Interior (1.5). Among Jewish women, the fertility
rate is 2.7, compared with 2.6 among Druze women, 2.2 among Arab-Christian women, and
1.9 among other Christian women.
Over the past decade, there has been a slight rise in the fertility rate among Jewish women.
The main increase was recorded among Israeli-born Jewish women.
Since 2001, there has been a drastic decline in the fertility rate among Muslim women.
The downward trend in fertility among Druze women is continuing. Today, the fertility rate
among Druze women (2.6) is lower than the rate among Jewish women (2.7).
Applications to Committees for Termination of Pregnancy
In 2004, about 19,712 women submitted applications to committees for termination of
pregnancy. Of those, about 99% were approved.
Of the applicants to committees for termination of pregnancy, 77% were Jewish women,
7.6% were Muslim, 0.9% were Druze, 2.7% were Christian, and 10.8% were women who
were not classified by religion at the Ministry of the Interior.
Over half of the applications for termination of pregnancy were approved under the article
of the law “pregnancy out of wedlock”; about 20% of the applications were approved under
the article “danger to the woman’s health”; over 10% were approved under the article
“woman’s age”; and the rest (about 17%) were approved under the article “risk for mental or
physical or mental defect in the foetus”.
Over the past decade, the proportion of never-married women who submitted applications to
these committees has increased (from 36% in 1994 to 42% in 2004), the proportion of
married women has declined (from 52% to 42%, respectively), and the proportion of
divorced women has increased (from 10% to 13%, respectively).
About one-third of the women who submitted requests to the committees had applied for at
least one termination of pregnancy in the past.
In 2005, 38,887 deaths were recorded in Israel, and the crude mortality rate was 5.6 per
In 2005, the life expectancy of men in Israel was 78.3 years, compared with 82.3 years for
women. The life expectancy of Jewish men was 79.1 years, compared with 75.0 for Arab
men. The life expectancy of Jewish women was 82.6, compared with 78.7 for Arab women.
Of all babies born in 2000-2004, about 51% of the boys and 65% of the girls are expected to
reach the age of 80. By comparison, at the end of the 1970s, only 33% of the girls and 43%
of the girls were expected to reach that age.
Life expectancy rose from the end of the 1970s to the beginning of the 21st century (1975-
1979 until 2000-2004) by 6.3 years for men, and 6.8 years for women. Almost half of the
increase is explained by the decline in mortality between ages 45 and 74. This decline
contributed 3.0 years to the increase in life expectancy for men, and 3.3 years among
In every period, life expectancy has been 3.5 to 4 years higher for women than for men.
Over the past decade, the difference in life expectancy for women versus men has increased
slightly, but it is still relatively minimal compared with the difference accepted in
For every year, the life expectancy of Arabs is lower than that of Jews. In 2000-2004, half of
the difference in life expectancy was explained by differences in mortality at ages 45-74,
and the difference in infant mortality rates explained only about 10% of the difference. By
contrast, at the end of the 1970s the difference in infant mortality rates contributed about
40% to the difference in life expectancy.
In international comparisons, Israeli men maintained a relatively high rank, with a life
expectancy about one year less (rounded) than that of their counterparts in Japan, which
ranked first place. Men in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Australia had a life
expectancy similar to that of Israeli men. Israeli women ranked lower, and their life
expectancy was four years lower than that of their counterparts in the leading country –
Japan. Women in Greece, Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, and Singapore
had a life expectancy similar to that of Israeli women.
In 2005, the infant morality rate per 1,000 live births was 4.3 – 3.1 among Jews, and 7.7
There has been a continuous downward trend in infant morality rates. Since mid-1970s,
infant mortality has declined by about 80% among both population groups.
Infant mortality rates are higher among the Arab population than the Jewish population, and
despite the significant decline in infant mortality over the years, a ratio of 2 to 1 has been
maintained during most years because the rate of improvement – about 5% per year on the
average – was the same for both population groups. In recent years, the average rate of
decline among the Arab populations has slowed to about 2.5% per year. Among the Jewish
population, however, the previous rate has been maintained. Therefore the ratio has
increased to 2.5 to 1.
Immigration to Israel
In 2005, over 21,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel. Of those immigrants, about 2,200
arrived as tourists and changed their status during their stay in the country. In addition,
about 3,000 immigrant citizens arrived in Israel during that period.
Of the immigrants, about 9,400 arrived from the Former Soviet Union, about 3,600 from
Ethiopia, about 2,500 from France, about 2,000 from the United States, and about 3,500
from other countries.
Prolonged Stay of Israelis Abroad (Emigration from Israel)
In 2003, about 25,400 residents of Israel left the country and did not return by the end of
2004. This constitutes a ratio of 3.8 to 1,000 residents, and is lower than the ratio registered
in 2003 (4.2 per 1,000 residents). The proportion of residents who stayed abroad for over a
year was particularly high among men aged 20-24 (7.8 per 1,000 residents).
In 2003, 9,100 residents returned to Israel after staying abroad for over a year. This ratio of
1.4 to 1,000 residents was slightly higher than the ratio over the past five years, which
ranged from 1.1 to 1.3 to 1,000 residents.
Labour Immigration to Israel
In 2005, about 29,000 foreign citizens arrived in Israel on work visas. During that period,
about 24,000 holders of work visas departed from Israel. Over half of the workers who
arrived were from two countries: Thailand (about 29%), and the Philippines (about 23%).
From 1990-2005, departures had not been recorded for about 98,300 foreign workers who
arrived in Israel with work visas (i.e., they were still living in Israel). About 30% of those
workers were from Thailand, about 24% were from the Philippines, about 15% were from
Romania, and about 10% were from China. About two-thirds of those workers arrived in
Israel over the past four years (2002-2005).
At the end of 2005, about 80,000 foreign residents from developing countries lived in Israel,
who had arrived in the country on a tourist visa and stayed longer than their visa permitted.
This number is the upper boundary of the estimated number of workers that do not have
In 2005, there were 1.968 million private households. Most of them (82%) were family
households in which at least one family resided.
About 84% of the households are Jewish; about 13% are Arab; and about 2% are
households of “others”.
The average number of persons in Jewish households was 3.11, compared with an average
of 4.91 persons in Arab households. In households of “others”, the average number of
persons was 2.93.
About 82% of the households in Israel are family households; about 18% are non-family
households, most of whom live alone (about 92%).
About 94% of the households have only one family; 3.5% are households in which one
family lives with other people; 2.5% are households with at least two families.
In 2005, 1.649 million families lived in Israel, in 1.606 million family households.
About 23% of the families were couples without children; about 64% of the families were
couples with children of all ages; about 12% of the families were single parents (with
children of all ages).
About half of the families were single parents with at least one child up to age 17.
In over 90% of the single-parent families with children up to age 17, the parent was a