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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Read more at MercatorNet

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

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy