Jews Comprise Less Than 3 Percent of Total Us Population; Undergoing Continuous Proportionate Declin
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Jews Comprise Less Than 3 Percent of Total Us Population; Undergoing Continuous Proportionate Declin

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“Although Jews are considered one of the three major religious groups in the United States, they are less than 3 percent of the total population, and, in fact, are undergoing a continuous decline in proportion, as the total population grows at a faster rate than do the Jews.” So concludes Prof. Sidney Goldstein of the Department of Sociology at Brown University in Providence, in the article “American Jewry, 1970: A Demographic Profile” in the 1971 American Jewish Year Book, a co-publication of the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Publication Society of America.

Between 1880 and the mid-1920s, Goldstein writes, the American Jewish population increased from under a quarter-million (.5 percent of the population) to an estimated 4.2 million (3.6 percent). “This phenomenal growth,” he noted, “converted the Jewish population in America from an insignificant minority, too small to establish anything more complex than localized Jewish communal life, to a substantial and vibrant national American sub-society.”

But from a percentage high of 3.7 in 1937, the Jewish population has decreased to around 2.9 percent last year. Goldstein attributes the decline largely to a lower Jewish birthrate, coupled with a decreasing immigration rate since World War II. But numbers are not the most important consideration, Goldstein concludes, and Jews “will undoubtedly continue to play significant roles in specific spheres of American life, such as cultural activities, education and urban politics.” But the percentage decrease will cause differences between Jews and non-Jews to narrow, Goldstein stated.

Goldstein writes that there is “general agreement” that Jewish intermarriage is on the increase, although there are no “clear” statistics. But he says the trend may not be as serious as imagined, since there is conversion to Judaism in “a considerable number of intermarriages” and “a significant proportion of children in such marriages are being raised as Jews.”


In another report in the Year Book, “Jewish Academics in the United States: Their Achievements, Culture and Politics,” two professors note the “startling” fact that “Jews (now) form a heavy proportion of academe.” The writers, Seymour Martin Lipset of Harvard and Everett Carll Ladd Jr. of the University of Connecticut, recall that “overt anti-Jewish prejudice within academe seemingly was at a high point in the 1920s and 1930s, when large numbers of the children of immigrants began to enter college.”

The professors dating from that generation now constitute 3.8 percent of collegiate faculties, while those professors under 25 years of age constitute 11.9 percent. “Whether this represents a new major increase, or possibly reflects the fact that Jews are able to complete their graduate work and enter teaching earlier than their Gentile compeers, cannot be determined from our data,” Lipset and Ladd noted.

The two researchers found that 74.5 percent of Jewish professors consider themselves liberals (62.1 percent) and leftists (12.4), compared with 44.7 percent of Catholic professors and 40.7 percent of Protestant professors. Radical student activism is approved, in varying degrees, by 59.1 of the Jewish faculty, 43.5 of the Catholic and 39.5 of the Protestant.

The legalization of marijuana is favored, in degrees, by 58.6 of the Jewish faculty, 32.5 of the Catholic and 29.4 of the Protestant. On Vietnam, immediate United States withdrawal is backed by 34 percent of the Jewish faculty, 16.7 of the Catholic and 15.5 percent of the Protestant while a military victory is endorsed by 1.5 percent of Jewish professors, compared with 8.3 percent of the Catholics and 8.4 percent of the Protestants.

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