Great Britain: Census reveals shifts in Jewish community

Data released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that while the Jewish population of the UK has remained stable over the past ten years, significant changes are taking place at local and regional levels.

2012.12.12. A joint report issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), and co-authored by Daniel Vulkan (Senior Researcher, Board of Deputies), Dr David Graham (Senior Research Fellow, JPR) and Jonathan Boyd (Executive Director, JPR), provides a first look at what the 2011 census data tell us about the Jewish population of England and Wales.

The 2011 census data are of particular interest to community leaders and planners because they provide a remarkably detailed and accurate view of the nation’s Jewish population, as well as a clear indication of the changes that have taken place since the last census in 2001. More census data will be released in stages in 2013, and JPR’s research team will be using them to produce a number of focused reports for various sectors in the Jewish community.

JPR’s forthcoming National Jewish Community Study (NJCS) will provide additional data that are not covered by the census. Together, these two resources will place the community in a very strong, data-rich position with huge potential to contribute towards planning and policy decision-making in the community over the coming years.

Key highlights from the 2011 Census data

  • Religion data show 263,346 Jews living in England and Wales, a figure which can be adjusted upwards and rounded to 284,000 based on the rate of non-response to the religion question. The population size has remained largely unchanged since 2001.
  • Jews constitute 0.5% of the total population of England and Wales, the same proportion as in 2001.

In comparison, data on the size and proportion of other major religious populations in England and Wales reveal the following:

o Christian: 59.3% (33,243,175)

o Muslim: 4.8% (2,706,066)

o Hindu: 1.5% (816,633)

o Sikh: 0.8% (423,158)

o Jewish: 0.5% (263,346)

o Buddhist: 0.4% (247,743)

o Other religions: 0.3% (240,530)

o No religion: 25.1% (14,097,229)

o Religion not stated: 7.2% (4,038,032

  • While the Jewish population has remained stable, the Christian population has decreased by 11%. All other major religious populations have significantly increased (Muslims by 75%; Buddhists by 71%; Hindus by 48%; and Sikhs by 28%)
  • There are at least some Jews living in every single one of the 348 Local Authority Districts in England and Wales. This attests to the substantial geographic diversity of the Jewish population.
  • London and its immediately adjacent areas account for 65.3% of the total Jewish population of England and Wales.
  • The Jewish population in the London Borough of Barnet has increased by almost 16% since 2001. One in five Jews in England and Wales now lives in Barnet.
  • The Jewish population of Greater Manchester has grown by the similar proportion of 15%. The growth is particularly notable in Salford and Bury.
  • Substantial Jewish population growth in Hackney, Haringey, Salford, Gateshead, as well as Barnet and Bury highlights a significant increase in size of the Orthodox population.
  • Geographically peripheral areas, both in terms of the regions and the urban periphery of London, have experienced Jewish population contractions. Leeds and Liverpool are particularly noteworthy in this regard, as are Redbridge and Brent.
  • The Jewish population of Hertfordshire has increased by 26%, from 16,885 in 2001 to 21,345 in 2011, confirming its status as a major centre of Jewish life in the UK.

For a full breakdown of Jewish populations in local authority areas across the country, click here.

Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of JPR says:

“The census data provide all Jewish organisations with an extraordinarily detailed picture of the Jewish population of the UK. They reveal a picture of overall population stability masking substantial local and regional change. They demonstrate and quantify the tremendous growth of the strictly Orthodox sector, the apparent decline of certain provincial and suburban London populations, and the clear emergence of Hertfordshire as a major centre of Jewish life. As more data are released by the Office for National Statistics in 2013, JPR’s research team will be working with a wide range of communal charities and organisations to help them to use these and other data to inform their planning.”

Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies, says:

"These figures represent the beginning of a lengthy process of taking the raw census data and overlaying it with other information about the community to build up a detailed picture. Even at this stage, an interesting snapshot emerges of an evolving community, gradually declining in some areas but growing and flourishing in others. Talk of a shrinking community has often been exaggerated and now appears to be plain wrong."


Editorial remarks

Source: The Board of Deputies of British Jews.