While in most of the world, increasing levels of wealth, health, and education have led to declining birthrates, the Jewish state continues to buck that trend. Even when removing from the equation the very high birthrates of Ḥaredim and Arab Israelis, the country still leads the developed world in fertility. Liel Leibovitz considers the reasons for this demographic miracle:
Examine the policies [other developed nations] put in place to encourage people to have children, and you will see a slew of state-sponsored benefits. Thirteen Western countries give young parents tax breaks on an assortment of childcare expenses. Some nations, such as Sweden and France, even have a universal child benefit, which provides guaranteed monthly payments for each child. Israel does little of the above; it is only ahead of ¬Mexico and the U.S. in terms of benefits for education and childcare.
Why, then, are so many Israelis having so many babies? Like all complex questions, this one, too, is probably too intricate to explain with a single observation. But you don’t have to be a seasoned demographer to offer up a pretty good theory for high fertility rates: tradition.
Israeli Jews . . . encouraged their children to study hard, but made sure that their schools spent considerable time talking not only about science and math but also about Jewish holidays and history. . . . In Israel, Jewish practice, like traditional forms of prayer, is a hyper-local affair, negotiated in small groups of friends and neighbors dedicated to its preservation. Thus, in Israel, even the most avowed atheist will recite the kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, when a parent passes away, and an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews who identify as secular still partake in traditional rites like Friday-night family dinners. Faith in Israel isn’t just practiced or observed; it’s embodied.