6 JPR survey

Average household size by self-defined Jewish religious practice in the UK

A report based on census data has shown the number of Jewish households in Britain has shrunk compared to the national average, but that Jews bucked the trend and showed a “strong” commitment to the traditional family model.

The findings, presented by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), show that the number of Jewish households fell by five percent to 113,635 between 2001 and 2011, while the number of households in the general population rose by eight percent.

However, the report also showed that, despite the decline in overall numbers the traditional family model is still at the heart of Jewish life, with almost nine in 10 Jewish children living in married couple families. Equally, Jewish children were five times less likely to grow up with a cohabiting couple (three percent, compared to 15 percent nationally) or with a lone parent (nine percent, compared to 25 percent nationally). “Compared with most other groups, Jewish family forming habits are more traditional,” says author Dr David Graham, a senior JPR researcher.

“Jews tend to avoid more liberal living arrangements such as cohabitation, and even when they do, they are far less likely than the population in general to have children in such arrangements.”

Other findings linked to the pro-marital tradition show that Jews under the age of 65 years are less likely to live alone, and that – compared with other single parents – Jewish single parents are more likely to be raising older children than young. “All of this is less a result of religious tendencies and more to do with Jewish cultural norms and values,” says Graham.

The report identifies several problems for planners, including the increasing issue of over-crowded households. Almost 9,000 families were shown as having insufficient living space – an eight percent increase on the previous decade. But in other areas, such as family size, Jews are “bucking the national trend,” say the report’s authors.

“Not only is the overall number of Jewish households declining as the number of general households is increasing, but the average Jewish household size is increasing as average household size generally is decreasing.”

This means that “although Jewish households in 2011 were smaller than average, the substantial gap that existed in 2001 is evidently shrinking and may, by now, have already disappeared”.