American Jewish Identity Survey 2001

Sponsor(s): Posen Foundation

Principal Investigator(s): Egon Mayer, Barry Kosmin, Ariela Keysar

Population Estimates:

AJIS 2001 estimated that there were 5.3 million "core" Jewish persons (adults and children) who either regarded themselves as Jewish by religion, or had no religion but were of Jewish parentage or upbringing.

Key Findings:

AJIS 2001 - the American Jewish Identity Survey - was a national study of American Jews completed in 2001 which was designed to replicate the methodology of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS 1990). Major findings:

  • In 1990, the "core" Jewish population was 5.5 million, and had declined to 5.3 million in just over ten years;


  • The total number of persons who are either currently Jewish or of Jewish origins has increased from 6.8 million in 1990 to 7.7 million in 2001;


  • 3.6 million American adults have a Jewish mother;


  • In 2001, there were 3.9 million households in which at least one member was Jewish by religion, or is of Jewish parentage of Jewish upbringing, or considers himself/herself to be Jewish. This household number increased from 3.2 million in 1990.


  • The total number of people living in these 3.9 million Jewish households was 10 million in 2001, a 20% increase from the 8 million people in the 3.2 million comparable households in 1990;


  • 73% of the "core" Jewish population believes that God exists, but half of the "core" Jews view themselves as secular or somewhat secular in outlook. Report has a detailed analysis of "secular" Judaism after presenting basic demographic estimates; text discussion indicates the question used to define "secular" perspectives;


  • 40% of Jews by religion or by Jewish parentage/upbringing married since 1990 married a Jewish-born person, 9% married a person who was not Jewish-born but converted to Judaism, and 51% are intermarried to a currently non-Jewish spouse;


  • Synagogue-temple-havurah affiliation has increased since 1990 by 15% to a total of approximately one million Jewish households;


  • Reform Judaism has the largest number of adult Jewish adherents: 38% are Reform Jews, 32% are Conservative Jews, 10% Orthodox, 1% Secular Humanist, and Reconstructionist 1%.

Sample Size: Final data file has 1,714 Jewish respondent interviews completed from February to May, 2001 in households where a person was Jewish or of Jewish background.

Sample Notes:

AJIS 2001 was part of a national study of religion in America (ARIS 2001: American Religious Identification Survey) which was based on 50,284 interviews. The broader ARIS 2001 report was written by Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer (deceased) and Ariela Keysar, and is also available for downloading on the right side of this page,  The ARIS 2001 report places the Jewish estimates in national perspective.

Exhibit 6 of the AJIS 2001 report summarizes details of 1990 and 2001 Jewish population estimates by specific sub-category.

AJIS 2001 report provided estimates of the number of Jewish persons in the USA using multiple perspectives and multiple definitions. Readers should always focus on the specific definition used in each exhibit and in each analysis. Of the 1,688 Jewish household/Jewish background interviews included in the 2001 reports, in 1,215 cases the respondent qualified as Jewish, while in 453 cases non-Jewish household members reported on a household member with Jewish parentage or upbringing.

Data file is available below. Total cases: 1,714 Jewish households, including the 1,668 interviews cited above, and some additional households which qualified for the Jewish HH interview.

Two weight factors included: a Population Weight and a Household Weight. There is a detailed discussion of the uses of each weight in the Methodology Report written by Dale Kulp, CEO and President, Marketing Systems Group, Inc. The methodology report describes the sampling, estimation, and weighting design in detail, and provides a sampling distribution for the screening phase of the study.

Methodological details and screening questions used to define individuals as Jewish by religion, by upbringing/parentage, and/or by self-identification are discussed in text of report, and in the brief technical appendix in the AJIS 2001 report.

The Data Bank thanks the Center for Cultural Judaism, Dr. Barry A. Kosmin and Dr. Ariela Keysar for their work on the data file, and for allowing the Data Bank to archive the reports and the data files.

Study Notes:

Unweighted frequencies for the Jewish respondents are also available below. Researchers can check these unweighted results against the downloaded data file (unweighted).

Please note that as of early 2008, the complete ARIS 2001 data file of over 50,000 cases - along with methodological notes - can be downloaded from the website of the Institute for the Study of Secularization in Society and Culture at Trinity College, Hartford, CT.  Please click on this highlighted link to complete a form from the Institute for the Study of Secularization to receive the limited data file of all ARIS 2001 respondents (including non-Jewish respondents) in either SPSS, SAS, ASCII or Excel.

Language: English