Volume 27 - Article 10 | Pages 261–298

The Second Demographic Transition in Israel: One for All?

By Evgenia Bystrov

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Date received:27 Oct 2011
Date published:21 Aug 2012
Word count:8180
Keywords:emancipative values, family formation, fertility, heterogeneity, Israel, marital transition, population composition, postponement, second demographic transition, value change


This article explores family behaviours and attitudes in Israel over the last decades through the lens of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT). Israel is divided by religious affiliation, the level of religiosity, ethnic origin and timing of immigration. Although fertility transition to replacement level among certain societal groups has been previously shown, the question of how the transition unfolds in other domains remains open. The goal of this paper is to highlight the diversity of marital and fertility transitions and non-transitions among various groups of this heterogeneous society, and to compare Israel’s transitions to European ones. The data sources which are used are cross-national large scale surveys, national representative surveys, and Population Register data. The data were disaggregated by religion, religiousness and ethnic origin. Emancipative value change, postponement of marriage, alternative living arrangements and a growing variety of fertility regimes were analyzed. A full range of pre-transitional, transitional, and post-transitional elements was found among the groups. Such sign of the SDT as growing childlessness was not found, and the spread of other features as unmarried cohabitation and non-marital childbearing was found limited. Population composition effects were isolated. It was found that the level of religiosity and the country of origin are important factors which differentiate family behaviours and attitudes. The connection between value orientation of the groups within Israel and their family behaviours is discussed. The socio-structural and institutional constraints that might impede further progression of the Second Demographic Transition in Israel are also discussed. Further research directions are suggested.

Author's Affiliation

Evgenia Bystrov - Universität Bremen, Germany [Email]

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