The Mystery of Israel’s High Fertility Rates

Feb. 21 2019

On average, the Israeli fertility rate is significantly higher than that of any developed country. In fact, while other countries have seen a decline in births, Israel has seen an increase since the beginning of the century. This anomaly cannot be explained by the high birthrates of ḥaredi women (whose fertility rates have remained steady) or of Arab women (whose rates have declined). Shannon Roberts writes:

[T]he rise in Israel’s fertility over the last two decades has actually been largely driven by non-Orthodox Jewish women, whose average fertility rate is 2.2 children per family.  This is [by itself] higher than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Perhaps strangely, it has been increasing despite women having children later in life and working more. In fact, non-Orthodox Jewish women have higher employment rates than women in any other OECD country, except for Iceland.

Also unlike other Western countries, highly educated Israeli women have just as many children as their less educated counterparts. . . .

Some factors affecting fertility are the cultural and religious nature of life in Israel, and that women are able to balance work life with family life relatively easily, but this does not fully explain why Israel is so different from other OECD countries. Israel is doing well economically from a macro perspective, with GDP growth high (but not per capita), the standard of living increasing, and poverty levels falling slightly, [but this fact is likewise insufficient to explain the fertility rate].

[C]an the many countries grappling with how to increase their own fertility learn something of Israel’s secret?

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More about: Demography, Fertility, Israel & Zionism, Israeli society

 

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey