Jewish Community Study of Greater Milwaukee 2011 (Revised Data: March 2015)

Sponsor(s): Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, The Helen Bader Foundation

Principal Investigator(s): Stephen L. Percy, University Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiatives and Research, Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Ron Miller

Population Estimates:

♦  The 2015 revised analysis estimates a Jewish population of 25,800 Jewish persons living in 15,000 Jewish households in the Greater Milwaukee area in 2011.  The total general population of the Study area is about 1.4 million (2010 U.S. census), which makes the area's Jewish population about 1.8 percent of that total.

♦ The total number of people living in Jewish households is 35,400, including approximately 9,600 non-Jewish persons.

♦ The original report issued in 2011 estimated 30,100 Jewish persons living in the same number of Jewish households (15,000) in 2011. 

♦ In 1996, the previous study of Jewish Greater Milwaukee estimated a Jewish population of 21,000 persons, plus a non-Jewish population of 4,400 for a total number of people of 25,400 people living in Greater Milwaukee households with at least one Jewish adult.


Key Findings:

In March 2015, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the Berman Jewish DataBank released revised materials for the 2011 Jewish community study of greater Milwaukee, including the Jewish population estimate, executive summary and full report, and survey data file. 

The reasons for the 2015 revision are described in two documents from the Milwaukee Jewish Federation: "FAQ: Revised Jewish Community Study of Greater Milwaukee 2011," and a one-page summary: "What You Need to Know,"  which notes that the ..."original study was prepared using unweighted data, making many of the statistics and conclusions in the original report inaccurate.  The data has now been weighted, and the original report has been reissued with more accurate statistics and conclusions."

The revised executive summary of the 2011 Greater Milwaukee Jewish Community Study highlights key findings.  Greater detail for each of the subjects in the executive summary is provided in the revised full report.   The data file has been weighted by the Berman Jewish DataBank.  The Federation and DataBank feel the weighted data and revised materials better reflect the reality of Jewish life in Milwaukee in 2011, including demographics, Jewish connections and service needs, than the original report based on unweighted data.


Jewish persons and households in the Greater Milwaukee area.

Note that adults were defined as Jewish for interviewing if "...they were reported to have been (1) born or raised Jewish or if (2) they consider themselves to be Jewish."  Jewish estimates base on those respondents, other adults and children in the household who currently [2011] considered themselves to be Jewish.  Children were defined as Jewish if the respondent reported they were being raised Jewish by religion or Jewish and another religion.

Sample Size: 534 telephone interviews; 1,141 Internet surveys.

Sample Notes:

Survey data were collected via random digit dialing, enhanced by telephone lists; both land line and cell phone calls were made. A total of 534 telephone interviews were completed in two waves of interviewing:

(1)  "RDD"  (random digit dialing) frame telephone calls resulted in 83 usable interviews in the data file -  based on 72,180 unique calls to 32,780 telephone numbers in the RDD frames.  A total of 5,438 households completed the screening phase of the interview, with 2.7% of these households identified as Jewish.  Household estimate of 15,000 based on 2,7% of all telephone households in the study area -  see Table 2-5 for details.

(2) LIST phase based on Milwaukee Jewish Federation lists accounted for 451 of the 534 completed telephone interviews.

In addition, an Internet survey was completed with 1,141 web-based interviews using Jewish-connected-organization lists so the Internet survey results had a "...likely bias [in the 2011 Milwaukee Jewish Community Study] toward those more connected to Jewish community."  

Study Notes:

Unweighted Data File

When the data file was deposited at the Berman Jewish DataBank (a few years after completion of the 2011 interviewing), the DataBank staff noted immediately that neither the RDD interviews nor the LIST interviews had been weighted to account for differential sampling patterns.  Thus, the 451 LIST interviews accounted for over 84% of all completed interviews, even though it was apparent to all that 84% of all Jews in Greater Milwaukee were not known to the Jewish Federation.  

♦ As such, all data reported in the 2011 publications over-estimated the Jewish connections of Greater Milwaukee Jews.

♦ Moreover, while the estimate of 15,000 Jewish households in Milwaukee based on the RDD interviews included an estimate that 38% of all Jewish households lived in the North Shore, the unweighted list-dominated data file used for the 2011-issued report inadvertently allowed the North Shore interviews to represent 78% of all completed interviews (note: the North Shore has the highest level of Jewish connections in the study area).

The DataBank immediately alerted the Jewish Federation, the researcher and the interviewing organization at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin.  Please see the "FAQ:Revised Jewish Community Study of Greater Milwaukee" for context, etc.

Weighting the 2011 Data File: Adjusting Geography Estimates in Original 2011 Data File

After multiple attempts to see if all original screening interviews, partially completed interviews, refusals and non-Jewish interviews could be located in order to re-weight the data file, the interview data necessary for re-weighting were not available.  At that point, the DataBank  - in consultation with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation staff - retroactively weighted the completed RDD and LIST interviews so that the final project data file would reflect the RDD-based estimates for the proportion of Jewish households in each of the four geographic regions used in analysis as initially computed by Dr. Percy in Table 2-5.

♦ Thus, the number of Jewish households in the weighted DataBank data file for the North Shore is 5,696 (precise) which exactly matches the original estimate in Table 2-5 -  38% of all "weighted" Jewish households. Similarly, the Jewish household estimates in the weighted data file for the other zip codes in the City of Milwaukee, in the Milwaukee County Ring and in Waukesha County all precisely match the HH estimates in the original 2011 analysis (there were 108 estimated HH without a geographic code, which was not noted in the original Table 2-5 in 2011, which has not been changed so the reported 15,004 included the missing geography without noting it).

Jewish Persons Estimates Revised Based on Original Data File.

Note that while the Jewish HH totals in the data file essentially match the original estimates - - in revised Table 2-5, on the other hand, the DataBank has revised the Jewish persons estimate to 25,800 based on the number of Jewish persons recorded as currently Jewish in each household in the original 2011 data file -  which was not used in the original Table 2-5, which apparently used a different model for estimating the number of Jewish persons.  Thus, for each HH in the revised data file, the number of Jewish persons in that household in the data file was multiplied by the HH weight to derive a Jewish persons weight for each household.

Weighting RDD/LIST interviews. Another weighting adjustment (beyond the HH adjustment) had to be used to adjust the RDD/LIST interview unweighted proportions in the original data file -  from 84% of the unweighted interviews being from LIST interviews and 16% RDD -  to more likely proportions.  The 84% List default estimate in the data file reflected the absence of any sampling adjustment weights.   The data file was weighted so that 43% of the interviews weighted were LIST-based and 57% RDD-based interviews - -  estimates which better reflected local community guesses and data from other similar mid-western Jewish communities. 

♦ List-RDD proportions were estimated differentially for the 2015 DataBank file calculations with the North Shore being 50% List, the other City of Milwaukee zip codes being 40% List, the County Ring 40% and Waukesha 35% List. 

Revised Data Estimates on Jewish Persons

The last three columns of Table 2-5 reflect the DataBank's changes to the basic estimation of Jewish persons.  Column "g" provides the average number of Jewish persons per household by geographic region, column "h" the estimated number of Jewish persons in each area based on the weighting adjustments and column "i" the proportion of all people living in Jewish households who are Jewish.  Beginning in Column "h," the estimates of the number of Jewish persons has been rounded to the nearest "100" by the Data Bank in order to avoid implying a level of precision that is impossible in a survey as opposed to a census.

Overall, the 2015 revision estimates that 73% of all people in Greater Milwaukee Jewish households are Jewish - - on a geographic basis, 98% of North Shore, 76% of City of Milwaukee, 50% of County Ring and 50% of Waukesha Jewish HH residents are estimated to be Jewish.


The DataBank has weighted the data file so that it better reflects the Jewish community of Milwaukee and provides a more accurate portrait of Jewish Milwaukee than the unweighted data file.  In the Milwaukee Jewish Federation 2015 issued Executive Summary and  complete Survey Report, the DataBank has adjusted the Telephone Survey data in the original 2011 report based upon the weighted data file, but has kept almost all of the original language other than changes required by revised data.  All percentages have been reported as whole percentages (18% and not 18.3%) in the 2015 revision, following standard DataBank and other research organization reporting.   All Internet data has been changed to a whole percentage from the 2011 decimal system, but (except for a minor typo, etc.), the Internet data has been reproduced as reported in 2011.

Please note that the Questionnaire does not reflect the exact order of the data file, but the basic data asked in the questionnaire does exist in the DataBank revised data file.



The data file used for the 2015 revised report is available for downloading on the right side of this Overview page.  Please note that the original data file has not been altered through variable 397.  Beginning with variable 398, the DataBank recodes exist.  The HH weight used is in variable 401 (HHWt_BJDB_2) and extrapolates to 15,004 Jewish HH.  A weight for the number of Jews is variable 403 and is based on the HH weight times the Number of Jews in variable 400 (DataBank revised to include a few cases missing in original data file recoded number of Jews). 


For more information on this study, contact Stephanie Wagner, Vice-President, Communications & Strategy, Milwaukee Jewish Federation [] or at 415-390-5744.


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