During the past half-century the Jewish population of the world has more than doubled, while during the past century it has increased nearly five-fold, according to Jacob Leschinsky, Jewish journalist and sociologist. Whereas in 1825 the Jewish population of the world was only 3,280,000, in 1880 it rose to 7,660,000, while in 1930 there were estimated to be 15,800,000 Jews in the world, writes Mr. Leschinsky in an article syndicated by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
While the Jewish world population has increased nearly five-fold during the past 105 years, he points out, the general population of the world was only slightly more than doubled. The great increase of Jewish population came mainly as a result of a great decline in the Jewish death rate, a much greater decline than among other peoples.
“Jews everywhere have less children than the peoples who surround them,” he writes, “because they became city people sooner than the non-Jews and have remained such to a larger extent, and also because they have a greater percentage of the very rich, moderately rich and members of the intelligent professions. But their death-rate was proportionately even smaller, and this explains why the increase of the Jewish population in most countries, except for a few countries with a purely West-European Jewry, was greater than among other peoples.”
During the past half-century the Jewish world population increased more than 160,000 a year, while during the previous half-century it increased at about 80,000 annually. Today the annual Jewish population increase is about 180,000. Even in East-European countries, from which Jews have been emigrating in large numbers for the past half-century, there is an annual increase of about 90,000 Jews in a Jewish population of about seven millions. The five million Jews in the Americas (United States, Canada, Argentina and the rest) also have a natural increase of at least 75,000 Jews a year. And even the West-European Jews, who constitute about 1,500,000 souls and whose birth-rate is lower than that of other Jews, have an annual natural increase of about 15 or 16 thousand.
Mr. Leschinsky shows how the proportion of Jews in various continents has changed during the past century. In 1825 Europe had 83.2% of world Jewry, Asia had 9.2%, Africa had 7.3%, America had 0.3% and Australia had no Jews at all. Last year the percentage of world Jewry living in Europe fell to 62.5%, while in America it rose to 30%. In Asia, only 4.3% of world Jewry lived in 1930, in Africa only 3% and in Australia 0.2%.
CONCENTRATE IN CITIES
One of the most important phenomena of Jewish life in the past century, according to Mr. Leschinsky, has been the tremendous concentration of Jews in large cities. Jews are the most urban people in the world. Fourteen of the largest cities of the world, containing more than a million population each, contain 4,500,000 Jews, nearly 30 percent of the entire world Jewish population. Only 18 percent of the English population lives in cities of more than a million inhabitants, only 12 percent of Americans and only 8 percent of Germans live in such cities. Forty percent of the British population lives in cities of more than 100,000 population, 29 percent of the American and 27 percent of the German population. But as regards Jews, 46 percent, or almost half of the entire world Jewish population, lives in cities of more than 100,000.
Still there are a few cities of more than a million population where there are very few Jews today. These include Tokio, the Japanese capital, which has a general population of more than two million; Bombay, India, where the population is about 1,250,000 and Hankow, China, with a population of about a million an a half.
There are eighteen cities in the world today, each of which has a Jewish population of more than 100,000, and together these 18 largest Jewish communities contain nearly five million Jews, nearly a third of the entire world Jewish population. “If,” says Mr. Leschinsky, “we add to these 55 other communities which contain between 45 and 100 thousand Jews each, we find that in 75 cities, each containing more than 25,000 Jews, there live altogether nearly 7 millions Jews, or almost 45% of the entire world population.
“If we regard a Jewish community of 10,000 as sufficiently large to maintain its own Jewish life and not to disappear in the surrounding environment,” he continues, “we have throughout the world 175 such communities, containing altogether 9 million Jews. Thus 57% of world Jewry lives in compact masses, to an extent with which no other people can compare. The other 43% of world Jewry lives in smaller communities, but mainly in communities containing between 5 and 10 thousand Jews. Not even 5 percent of world Jewry lives in villages and on farms.
“But only a century ago a full third of world Jewry lived in villages, each containing two or three Jewish families. At that time there were only three cities which contained more than 10,000 Jews-Amsterdam, Saloniki and Constantinople-and which together had only two percent of the entire Jewish world population. The majority of Jewish communities a century ago contained only between 100 and 500 souls.