The Impact of Geographic Mobility on the Jewish Community 2009

Sponsor(s): Albert and Audrey Ratner Foundation, Berman Institute - North American Jewish Data Bank at the University of Connecticut, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation

Principal Investigator(s): Sid Groenman, Tom W. Smith

Study Dates: Reports issued November 2009

Key Findings:

"Moving: The Impact of Geographic Mobility on the Jewish Community" presents the results of secondary analyses of three sources of data on the American Jewish community. The analyses were designed to understand the impact of the mobility of Jewish persons and Jewish households on the fabric of Jewish life. Data sources:

Nine recent Jewish communities in the South and the West which had experienced relatively high mobility - Atlanta, Denver-Boulder, Las Vegas, West Palm Beach County (FL), San Diego, San Francisco region, South Palm Beach County (FL), Greater Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.The National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01(NJPS), providing a look at mobility patterns among the American Jewish population as a whole.Three decades of data from NORC's General Social Survey (GSS) allowing a comparison between Jews and non-Jews.

Brief summary of results:

Jews continue to exhibit high levels of residential mobility, especially in growing Jewish communities in the South and West. One in six residents of the local communities moved into their current community within the past four years, and another one in six moved in from five to nine years ago.

More recent movers are much younger than non-movers, less likely to be married, more likely to be college graduates (but with lower income)and slightly less likely to have a Jewish denominational identity.

Mobility reduces all Jewish Federation related perceptions and behaviors, including familiarity with the local Federation and giving to the Federation at any level. In general, the strongest adverse effects of mobility are in the domain of philanthropy, particularly with respect to local Jewish Federations. Mobility also reduces donations to other Jewish charities and causes, synagogue membership and a sense of belonging to the Jewish community.

In contrast, mobility has a positive effect on Internet usage for Jewish content and information. This suggests that online communications are critical for federations and other Jewish organizations seeking to reach recent movers.

Data from the nine local Jewish communities in the South and West indicated that minimal and non-statistically significant differences existed between movers and non-movers for Jewish ritual behaviors, attachments to Israel, raising Jewish children and providing them with a Jewish education.

However, multivariate analysis of the national data sources showed a decline in raising children as Jews and providing them with a Jewish education as a correlate of mobility.

Finally, a series of focus groups with Jewish professionals (local and national) were conducted to explore the implications of the quantitative data.

Strategic/policy implications and recommendations are presented for four broad areas: (1) sharing information about movers; (2) understanding today's consumer orientation; (3) reaching out to newcomers through marketing, communications and branding; and (4) identifying how national organizations can add value to local affiliates.

Sample Size: Two data files are available from the study: (1) 11,213 interviews from the nine Jewish community studies, and (2) 4,147 Jewish respondents to the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01.

Sample Notes:

Researchers interested in using the data files provided by the NORC researchers and The Jewish Federations of North America to the Data Bank should initially read the Methodology Report. They should then refer to the two data files and the "Descriptions of Variables and Codes Used in Communities Data File."

The Methodology Report describes the two files, including the sources of information from the original survey questionnaires that were used to organize key variables, the recoding syntax in SPSS that was used to create new variables.

The Methodology Report also summarizes how a revised weighting system was used for the nine Jewish community study files, including a final weight which is an analytic weight as opposed to a population projection weight.

Also included in the Methodology Report are basic tables for the nine local studies and the NJPS data which summarize sample sizes with age and years living in the community relationships, and a series of logistic regressions for both data sets.

Study Notes

For questions about the content of the report, etc., please send all emails to Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Senior Director: Research & Analysis, Jewish Federations of North America:

The 2009 Mobility Report.

"Dial-up" Internet users please note: the Full Report is almost 23 MB.High-speed Internet users should download the Full Report easily in approximately one minute.All data files have been zipped; approximate downloadable total is 5 MB.The data files themselves are much larger when unzipped: the SPSS SAV version of the Communities Data File is 2.7 MB, while the NJPS SAV data file with the added variables used in the "Moving-Mobility" analysis is almost 8 MB.In order to provide both the original SPSS "sav" file for SPSS users and an SPSS "portable" file for those wishing to import the data file into another software system (without having the SPSS software), there are two files for both the NJPS and the Communities Data File - an SAV version and a POR version.

SPSS users should use the "sav" files since these files have the most complete variable labeling information.


Survey Reports

» Summary Report

» Methodology Report

» Full Report
(PDF, 21.92 Mb)

Slide Sets

» Slide Set

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» Definitions of Variables and Codes Used in Communities Data File

Data Files and Data Definitions

» Zipped SPSS Data File

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