Jewish Community of New York Will Dwindle, Birth and Death Rates Indicate
Menu JTA Search

Jewish Community of New York Will Dwindle, Birth and Death Rates Indicate

Download PDF for this date

The death rate among the Jewish population in New York City is lower than that of the general population.

The Jewish birth rate in New York is smaller than that of the general population.

Because of the lower birth rate and because of the fact that the Jewish population in New York, which is now a young group, will, as the years advance, be hard hit by those degenerative diseases to which the population is subject unless effective measures are taken to fight the diseases; since it is unlikely that the Jewish population in New York will find replacements from Europe due to the immigration restriction.

The future will see New York’s Jewish population dwindling in proportion to the general population of the greater city, as it is likely that the Jews of New York will not display the same net population increase as will other groups.

This is the tentative conclusion which may be drawn, in the opinion of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, from the findings of the Jewish Communal Survey, a study in population figures and birth and death rates.

An examination of the death certificates in New York, the survey says, discloses the fact that diseases of the heart, cancer, diabetes, nephritis and tuberculosis, hitting the Jewish population hardest after the age of forty-five, rank foremost among the causes of deaths among the Jews. Death rates from cancer, diseases of the heart and diabetes are greater now among the Jewish population over forty-five than among the general population. The Jewish population games to have combatted tuberculosis with greater success than the non-Jewish, the survey declares.

Despite the smaller proportion of death among them, the Jewish population is not growing in number as rapidly as the general population, the study shows. In Brooklyn, which contains forty-five percent of all the Jews living in the five boroughs, the Jewish birth rate was found to be eighteen per thousand as compared with 22.35 per thousand among the general population of that borough.

The Jewish death rate is notably low among adults between the ages of fifteen and forty-five years. In the age groups beyond forty-five, however, the rate of mortality among them is considerably higher than for the general population.

“The Jewish population,” the study declares, “has become prey to the outstanding degenerative diseases, diseases of the heart, cancer, diabetes, and to a lesser extent, nephritis.”

Tuberculosis, the study states, appears to have been combated by the Jews more successfully than by the general population. Death rates from eancer diseases of the heart and diabetes are greater already among Jews past the forty-year mark than among the general population of the same groups.

A continued low death rate for the entire Jewish population, the survey states, is dependent upon the birth rate, the age distribution of the population and the causes of death. The survey declares that the Jewish population is a young group, Jews between the ages of five and forty-five years making up seventy-five percent of the total Jewish population in New York. Because of the failure to complete the State census of 1925 it was impossible to compare this figure with the city’s non-Jewish whites for the same year, but in 1923, the general population in the same age group constituted only 667 percent of the total population.

For children under five years of age, the Jewish death rate was found to be 14.7 per thousand; for the general groups it was 24.7 per thousand. For the group from five to nine years, the Jewish mortality rate was 2.3 per thousand; for the general group it was 27. The comparison favors the Jewish group all along the line in the lower brackets, the record showing: ten to fourteen-year group, Jewish, 1.3 per thousand; general, 2.1; fifteen to ninteen years, Jewish 1.5; general, 3.4; twenty to twenty-four years, Jewish, 1.7; general, 4.2; twenty-five to thirty-four years, Jewish, 3.2; general, 4.8; thirty-five to forty-four years, Jewish, 5.3; general, 7.5; forty-five to fifty-four years, Jewish, 12.1; general, 12.6 per thousand. In this age group the number of Jewish male deaths per thousand, 13.2, is greater than the number as shown in the general United States charts, but deaths among Jewish women, while silghtly higher than for the general population of this age group, are practically at the same rate as the non-Jewish females for the next older group, from forty-five to sixty-four years. The survey shows that the average Jewish male from forty-five up and female from fifty-four up, stands less of a mathematical chance of surviving than their average United States neighbor.

The Jewish death rates are higher in two diseases, those of the heart and in diabetes. The Jewish crude death rate for heart diseases in 191.3 per 100,000, as against 180.7 for the United States population. The Jewish diabetes rate is 24.7 and against 17.2.

Mortality from cancer is slightly lower among the Jews, the rate being 93.6 for the Jewish group and 94.3 among the general population. Death rates for nephritis, tuberculosis, cerebral hemorrhage and venereal diseases are notably lower among the Jews than for the general population.

Among Jewish males the first five diseases are diseases of the heart, tuberculosis of respiratory system, violent deaths, cancer and lobar pneumonia. Among Jewish females, the first five diseases are diseases of the heart, cancer, tuberculosis, puerperal state and lobar pneumonia.

In the sudden sharp mount of the Jewish death rate after the forty-fifth year, even tuberculosis, to which Jews are comparatively immune, takes its toll. The crude death rate for all forms of tuberculosis for New York Jews was 36.5 per 100,000 as against 86.3 for the general population. “There is no doubt,” the survey observes, “that as far as the Jewish population is concerned, tuberculosis is no longer the scourge it was; and the great decline in this disease for the whole population would indicate its probable passing as a major cause of death.”

According to the study, Jewish deaths from diseases of the heart present a more serious situation. The Jewish death rate for 1925 was 191.3 per 100,000 as against 180.7 per 100,000 for the United States population. The Jewish rates begin to mount sharply after forty-five years, being almost twice as great for the 65 to 74 year age group, and more than twice as great after 75 years. “It thus is evident, the survey holds, “that after forty-five years the Jewish population is particularly prey to these degenerative diseases of the heart and that already Jewish rates are far greater than for the general population.”

The study also applies this same general conclusion with regard to deaths from cancer and diabetes. While slightly lower in proportion for the entire Jewish population, the Jewish deaths are markedly higher after twenty-five years and particularly so after forty-five years. In diabetes, the deaths are lower for Jews through forty-four years, but jump appreciably in the older age groups.

In the case of nephritis, the proportionate number of deaths among Jews is less than one-half of those for the general population. In no age group is the Jewish rate greater than that for the general population, but after fifty-five years the Jewish rates approximate those of the general population. With regard to cerebral hemorrhage and softening of the brain, the Jewish rates are quite low, the death rate being 8.7 per 100,000 as against 85.6 for the general population.

Although the Jewish death rate from pneumonia is lower than the general rate for the ages fifteen to forty-five, 84.8 per 100,000 as against 93.9, it is about the same for the next older age group of forty-five to fifty-four years and considerably higher for the group from sixty-five years up.

One out of every four deaths among New York Jews is due to diseases of the heart. The causes of death from major diseases are: tuberculosis (all forms) 4.6 percent; diseases of heart, 24.2 percent; cancer, 11.8 percent; diabetes, 3.1 percent; nephritis, 5.1 percent; pneumonia (all forms) 10.7 per cent; cerebral hemorrhage, 1.1 percent; and all other diseases, 39.4 percent.

Analysis of these figures by age groups shows that with the exception of the group from twenty to twenty-four years old, diseases of the heart rank first, proportionately, as a cause of death. In five of the eight age groups, cancer ranks second. Among the general population, tuberculosis ranks first in four age groups and diseases of the heart in four. In the groups past the twenty-five year age mark, diabetes takes a greater toll proportionately among the Jewish population than among others.

The population and mortality studies, it was explained by Samuel A. Gold-smith, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research, which is making the survey, has served as the basis for other studies which will soon be made public. The survey was undertaken to evaluate the communal resources of the Jewish community and to plan the program in the various fields of social service for the next decade.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund