Israel’s population almost 10 million
By: Joseph Estes
As Israel becomes a medium-sized country in population, GDP and growth, there are ramifications for the region and Israel’s place in the world. Israel’s population growth means that the population is now nearing 10 million and estimates show by 2030 there will be another million people in the country. This is mostly due to relatively high birth rates. On the eve of Independence Day the population is reported at 9.7 million, of which 7.1 million are Jews.
Israel’s population grows every year and as it grows the number of children born every year increases as well. Today it is around 183,000 people born a year, and there are also people who make Aliyah to the country or people who may return from abroad.
Back in 2003 things were different. The country had 6.7 million people and 116,000 people born in the year prior. There was also a brutal Intifada taking place.
New ways of perceiving Israel
What this means is that Israel’s population growth is healthy and it also illustrates how Israel is no longer a small country. This is important to understand because historically Israel has been thought of as a small country in the Middle East. This has led to different ways of perceiving Israel. One way to perceive it was as a country under siege by enemies, surrounded by larger states.
This may have been the case in the 1950s and 1960s. Today if we look around the region, while many countries have larger populations, many of them face challenges that Israel does not face. Syria, for instance, may have a population of 20 million, but many of its people have been forced to flee the country due to a long internal war. Israel has one of the largest GDPs in the region, outpaced by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but similar to the UAE and Egypt. Its GDP per capita is also among the highest and like the population, is growing.
While Israel’s population is smaller than countries like Iraq or Egypt, there are major differences. People in many countries in the region are migrating out of the region. By contrast, Israel is not a country people are seeking to leave. That doesn’t mean the country doesn’t face struggles, but it’s not facing the same issues that countries like Tunisia, for instance, face today. This means that the perception of Israel in the Middle East as one of the smaller countries no longer is a relevant way to see Israel. Its population and its GDP are growing.
Many countries facing demographic decline Globally it’s also worth thinking about Israel’s position, demographically and economically. Of the almost 200 UN member states, Israel sits about in the middle in terms of population. However, here again, Israel’s size and changes in its population matter. Israel has a strong birth rate, and many countries in the world these days are facing the dim future of demographic decline due to a variety of factors.
The fertility rate, population growth rate and average age of the population in Israel also mark the country as not only growing faster than many other countries but also having a population that is relatively wealthy for a high growth rate like this. What that means is that there are many countries in the global south with a high birth rate, but many of them are also poor and they are countries where many people seek to migrate to wealthier countries. By contrast, Israel has a high birth rate, comparatively and it isn’t suffering demographic decline like countries such as South Korea and China now face.
This is important because demographic decline and an aging population are a potential disaster for many countries in the West and in Asia. Many countries that dominate in hi-tech or are very wealthy have a tendency to have a low birth rate, an aging population and no clear way to exit this cycle. Some of these countries have tried paying people more to have kids, or in China’s case they stopped forcing people to have one child, but these policies are not working, because generally having numerous children is a cultural factor, not something a country can throw money at.
What the data shows is that even larger countries are facing the spiral of population decline. Israel will not only have a larger population than many of its peers as the years continue, but it will have a larger, wealthier and younger population, without the difficulties of having a population that is too young, too poor and uneducated to achieve the kinds of results that Israel has seen in the past.
Some problems remain
That does not mean that all is perfect. There have been warnings for years about Israel facing overpopulation, or having sectors that are underperforming, or whose children are not meeting educational standards necessary for a competitive hi-tech society. These warnings have a kind of cyclical nature, every year we hear about them, but every year the country continues onward. If Israel’s biggest hurdle is integrating the Arab and Haredi populations into the economic success, for instance, these are smaller hurdles than many other countries face.
The overall context is that Israel is simply no longer a small country and as it becomes a medium-sized country in terms of population, GDP and growth, this has ramifications for the region and Israel’s place in the world. This is already widely recognized in terms of Israel’s success in technology and trade, and especially such issues as Israel’s success in cyber, AI and also its defense industry’s success.
As Israel’s global position changes especially in the wake of the Abraham Accords, through new groupings like I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and the US), and as Israel forms strategic partnerships with countries like India and Azerbaijan, there is a need to rethink Israel’s place in the world. The world is changing and with it the global order. While China and Russia want a new world order, supplanting the US-led role after the Cold War, Israel will have to see where it will position itself in this shifting era.
Joseph is a Breslov hasid living and working in Queens, NY he is the creator and editor of this site. You can contact him for any issues you need help with on the site.
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