Jerusalem’s population – approaching a million and more diverse than ever

The length of David’s reign over Yisrael was forty years: he reigned seven years in Chevron, and he reigned thirty-three years in Yerushalayim.




(the israel bible)

May 5, 2021

6 min read

Fifty-four years after the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967, Jerusalem is nearing a population of one million people and is more diverse than ever, according to a report prepared by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research and presented to President Reuven Rivlin and the capital’s mayor, Moshe Leon. 


The institute, established in 1978, is a leading and influential research organization that aims at promoting and defining policy issues in Israel in general and in Jerusalem in particular. Its activities and research help institutions and government to shape and implement innovative and effective policy and bring the capital – with all its various components to the world—and the world to Jerusalem. 


Its chairman Dan Halperin and its director Lior Shilat and institute researchers prepared the report for presentation a week before Jerusalem Day. 


For the first time, the researchers analyzed some of the city’s data according to the various populations that make it up, with the recognition that the average composition of the population in the capital, mainly in socio-economic data, does not represent the uniqueness of the city’s populations, their differences and the need for different responses. 


It was found that in many fields, there are similar characteristics between groups among the city’s residents and parallel population groups in Israel. Thus, the socio-economic ranking of the general Jewish neighborhoods is six out of 10 (the highest), similar to Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Netanya and Hadera, while the ranking of the ultra-Orthodox (haredi) and Arab neighborhoods is one, similar to Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit, Rahat and Ksaifa.


Rivlin said that the report contains important information dealing with “all issues levels of Jerusalem, in all its neighborhoods. eeast and west, new and old, religious and secular, Jewish and Arab. The future of Jerusalem is the future of the State of Israel. Jerusalem is a microcosm of our existence. Despite all the complexities, the solution lies in Jerusalem, and it is precisely here, in a city composed of all the demographic wealth of the State of Israel, that a way must be found to create a dialogue, to connect, to cooperate”


Shilat responded that ‘the Year of the Corona” and recent events show how multifaceted and diverse the capital of Israel us – very heterogeneous nationally, religiously and socially and especially the extent to which the processes and events in Jerusalem have political significance and influence on processes in the country as a whole. In many cases, processes and trends in the city precede what will happen in the entire State of Israel in a few decades. In this sense, Jerusalem is the “national laboratory” of the State of Israel.


Among the highlights of the report is that Jerusalem is nearing one million inhabitants and continues to be the largest city in Israel. At the end of 2020, its population was 952,000.


In 2019, 62% of the city’s residents were Jews (and others) and 38% Arabs. In 2019, 1,345,300 residents lived in the entire metropolitan area surrounding Jerusalem (excluding the Palestinian population in the Judea and Samaria territories): 70% in the metropolitan area of ​​Jerusalem, and 30% in the outer ring. By comparison, 4,052,200 residents lived in the metropolitan area of ​​Tel Aviv. Haifa 962,500, and in the Beersheba metropolitan area 402,600. 


In 2019, the population of Jerusalem increased by 17,000 people (an increase of 1.8%); the Jewish population increased by 7,800 (an increase rate of 1.4%) and the Arab population increased by 9,200. (2.6%)

In 2019, 25,400 babies were born to Jerusalem residents: 16,400 babies (65%) were born to Jewish families and 9,000 babies (35%) were born to Arab families. 


The number of Jerusalemites who died in the year was 3,840 (2,920 Jews and others and 920 Arabs), so the natural increase added 21,500 residents, 13,400 Jews and others, and 8,100 Arabs. The total fertility rate (the average number of children a woman is expected to have during her lifetime) in Jerusalem was 3.9, and it was significantly higher than the fertility rate in Israel (3.0). The fertility rate of Jewish women in Jerusalem was 4.3, and it was higher than the fertility rate among Arab women in Jerusalem (3.2).


In the last decade, there has been a slight increase in the fertility rate among Jewish women in both Jerusalem and Israel, while among Arab women there has been a sharp decline. In 2010, for example, the fertility rate among Jewish women in Jerusalem was 4.2, and it rose slightly to 4.3 in 2019. Among the Arab population, the opposite trend was recorded in Jerusalem, where the fertility rate fell from 3.9 to 3.2, and in Israel from 3.5 to 3.0, apparently due to higher education levels among Arab women. 


As for elementary and secondary education, has the largest and most diverse educational system in Israel, with 293,600 pupils – which is larger than the total number of residents in Haifa. As for higher education, the Hebrew University leads in the rate of increase in student numbers and continues to be the university with the largest number of doctoral students (2,300 postgraduate students). 


 It also has the second-largest economy in the country, with 344,300 working – or  nine percent of all employed in Israel (in Tel Aviv, the figure is 11%). Notable in the data is the high-tech services industry in Jerusalem, which has been on a steady upward trend since 2015. 

The percentage of Jerusalemites who travel by public transport and arrive at their place of work by public transport is 30%, compared to 18% in Israel as a whole. 

There is a growing and high demand for housing in Jerusalem, with the average price of a 3.5 to four-room apartment NIS 2.26 million (US $695,000) compared to a national average of NIS 1.56 million (US $479,918). 


In 2019, about 2,600 immigrants chose Jerusalem as their first place of residence in Israel, and they constituted eight percent of all immigrants to Israel. The number was lower than the that of immigrants who chose Tel Aviv (4,300), and Haifa (3,000).


The average age of Jerusalemites is young. In 2019, the median age of Jerusalem residents was 24 years, compared to 36 in Tel Aviv and 38 in Haifa. But the Jewish population in Jerusalem is older than the Arab population. In 2019, the median age of the Jewish population in Jerusalem was 26 compared to 22 among the Arab population.


The percentage of adults (aged 65 and over) in Jerusalem is relatively low. Members of this age group constituted nine percednt of the total population of the city, compared with 15% in Tel Aviv, 20% in Haifa and 12% in Israel. Among the Jewish population in Jerusalem, the elderly constituted 12%, compared with only four percent among the Arab population.


Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city have a very young age structure – even younger than the Arab population. According to an estimate, in 2019 the share of children (from birth to age 14) among the population in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods was 41%, compared to 26% among the population in areas characterized by a general Jewish population (secular, traditional and national religious population). 


The Arab-Muslim population in Jerusalem is also characterized by a young age structure and is considerably younger than the Arab-Christian population. Among the Muslim population, the proportion of children (from birth to 14) was 36%, compared with 20% among the Arab-Christian population. The percentage of adults (aged 65 and over) among the Muslim population was four percent, compared with 14% among the Arab-Christian population


In 2019, 11,900 new residents moved to Jerusalem from other localities in the country, with 20,100 residents moving to other localities, mostly due to the lack of affordable housing and employment. 


The number of COVID-19 cases in Jerusalem by March 2021 was 130,200, or 139 cases per 1,000 inhabitants – higher than the figure for Israel (91.2 cases per 1,000), but lower than in other localities with an ultra-Orthodox population. The number of fully vaccinated against Coronavirus in the city was 355,300, or 570.3 per 1,000 persons aged 15 and over. This number was also low in relation to Israel (729) but high in relation to ultra-Orthodox towns and cities. 


According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2020, construction of 2,460 housing units began in Jerusalem. Most of the apartments whose construction began in 2020 were relatively large –43% were five rooms or more and another 41% of the apartments were four rooms. 


Only 86% of Jerusalemites over the age of 20 had an Internet connection in 2019 compared to Israel in general (95%), Tel Aviv-Jaffa (99%) and Haifa (98%). The main reason for the low rate of Jerusalem residents connected to the Internet is related to the high rate of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem residents who do not have an Internet connection at home for ideological or religious reasons. Just 53% of ultra-Orthodox respondents said their home had an Internet connection. Among the non-haredi Jewish residents of Jerusalem, the Internet connection rate was 94%. 




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