2013 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews: A Portrait of Jewish Americans

Sponsor(s): PEW Research Center

Principal Investigator(s): Luis Lugo, Alan Cooperman, Gregory A. Smith

Study Dates: February 20 - June 13, 2013

Population Estimates:

The Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews 2013  estimates a total of 6.7 million Jewish persons in the United States  -  5.3 million Jewish adults and over 1.3 million Jewish children (rounded total equals 6.7 million).

Chapter 1 "Population Estimates" included a detailed breakdown of estimates for adult Jews by religion and adult Jews of no religion (page 23), as well as an estimate of persons of Jewish background (2.4 million) and "Jewish affinity" (1.2 million).  See page 18 for a useful summary of all definitions of who counts as a Jewish adult for the survey.

Children's estimates are on page 25; 1.8 million children live in a household with a current Jewish adult.  Of these, just over 1.3 million children are being raised Jewish by religion, or partially Jewish  - Jewish by religion and another religion, or are Jewish or partly Jewish aside from religion.

Key Findings:

The 2013 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews, reported in A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews, is the most comprehensive national study of the American Jewish population in a dozen years.  The survey covers a wide range of topics, including population estimates, demographic characteristics, Jewish identity, religious beliefs and practices, intermarriage, connections with Israel, and social and political views.

The report looks consistently at differences between Jews who identify as Jewish by religion and Jews of no religion; between in-married and inter-married Jews; among Jews who  identify with different religious denominations (Ultra-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and none); and across selected demographic factors like age and education.

The survey estimates the Jewish population in the United States at 6.7 million, including 5.3 million Jewish adults and 1.3 million Jewish children (rounded combined total to nearest hundred thousand is 6.7 million).  Of the 5.3 million adults counted as currently Jewish, 78% define themselves as Jewish by religion (4.2 million) and another 22% are classified as Jews of no religion, that is, Jews who say their religion is "none" but who were raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent and still consider themselves to be Jewish aside from religion.

The 5.3 million Jewish adults represent 2.2% of all American adults; the 4.2 million Jews by religion represent 1.8% of U.S. adults, a finding consistent with the results of Gallup polls and the General Social Survey, as well as previous Pew Research Center studies.

The 22% of Jews with no religion is similar to the share of religious "nones" in the general population, which is 20%.  The proportion of Jews with no religion increases steadily with each age group, climbing from just 7% of the Greatest Generation (born 1914-1927) to 32% of Jewish Millennials (ages 18-29, born after 1980).

The initial table in "Chapter 1: Population Estimates" has a detailed analysis of population estimates for Jews by religion and Jews of no religion,  combined as the "net" Jewish adult population for survey analysis, as well as estimates for adults of Jewish background (but currently not Jewish) and adults of Jewish affinity.

Page 18 has a useful summary of the definitions used for counting adults as Jews, as persons of Jewish background and as persons with Jewish affinity.

The estimated 1.3 million plus children being raised Jewish (900,000 exclusively Jewish by religion, 100,000 of no religion, and over 300,000 raised Jewish by religion and with another religion also) constitute approximately 77% of all children in a household with a current Jewish adult.  23% of all children living with a Jewish adult are not currently being raised as Jewish, or partially Jewish.

Intermarriage:  the report indicates that 44% of all Jewish adults/persons are currently intermarried.  Expressing the same data as a "couples rate," 61% of all current marriages involving a Jewish adult are intermarriages [DataBank calculation - some of the Jewish respondents are married to other Jews so the individual Jewish intermarriage rate is always lower than the Jewish intermarried couples rate.]

The Berman Jewish DataBank FAQ publication on intermarriage compares the rates of intermarriage of over 50 local American Jewish communities, as well as the intermarriage rates found in NJPS 2001 and PEW Research Survey 2013.

Jewish person intermarriage rates among the Pew Research survey respondents have increased over the past two decades, but appear to have leveled off recently; 17% of Jewish respondents married prior to 1970 are intermarried, compared to 35%-36% in the 1970s, 41%-42% in the 1980s, 46% from 1990-1994, 55% from 1995-1999 and 58% from both 2000 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2013.

Compared to the NJPS 2001 intermarriage results - - while 31% of all Jewish persons in 2001 were intermarried, 44% are intermarried in the PEW Research Survey 2013 study. (For those who prefer couples data: the increase in the percent of married Jewish couples who are intermarried rose from 46%-48% in 2001 to 61% in 2013.)

Children -  the Pew Research survey found that while almost every in-married household (96%) raised their children as Jewish by religion, among the intermarried, only 20% of the households raised their children as Jewish by religion compared to 25% partly Jewish by religion and another 16% of the intermarried couples who are raising their children as Jewish without religion or have multiple children in the household, where at least one is being raised partially Jewish.

Denominational identification: 35% of Jewish respondents self identify as Reform, 18% Conservative and 10% Orthodox; 30% report no denominational/movement identification.

The report notes that the historical pattern of the "falloff from Orthodoxy" among older Jewish respondents from the way that they were raised appears to be much lower among Orthodox respondents ages 18-29 than in the older cohorts.

Jewish connection variables and attitudes/beliefs/values are a central focus of the Pew Research Survey.  A few highlights of the many fascinating and informative results of the study include:

39% of all respondents report living in a household where someone is a synagogue member - -  59% of the in-married compared to only 14% of the intermarried.

Passover participation at 70% of Jewish respondents and some Yom Kippur fasting for 53% appear to reflect a decline from the NJPS 2001 estimates of 78% and 60% - -  mostly fueled by the increasing percentages of Jews of no religion.

30% of all Jews report being very attached to Israel while another 39% are somewhat attached; over 55% of Jews of no religion are not very or not at all attached to Israel (compared to 23% of Jews by religion).

43% of all Jews report having been to Israel, including 49% of Jews by religion only 23% of Jews of no religion.

Only 38% say the current (2013) Israeli government is making a sincere effort to establish peace with the Palestinians (fewer, 12%, think the Palestinian leaders are sincerely seeking peace with Israel).

44% of all Jewish people thought that the impact of continued building of Jewish settlements "hurts" Israel's security -  40% of Jews by religion and 56% of Jews of no religion.

The Pew Research Survey report also contains a wealth of demographic data on American Jews -  age, political party affiliation, education, geographic concentration, employment status and income - but no poverty estimates.

Chapter 7 is a unique chapter among Jewish surveys since it focuses on persons of Jewish background who are not currently Jewish, as well as those persons described in the Pew Research Survey report as individuals of "Jewish affinity."

Sample:

The Pew Research Center survey interviewed a nationally representative sample of Jews from February 20, 2013 through June 13, 2013.  The Pew Research Center Survey utilized a stratified random digit dial (RDD) sampling design that included both landline and cell phone frames.

A total of 3,475 Jewish respondent interviews were completed in English or in Russian  - -  2,786 with Jews by religion and 689 with Jews of no religion.

Of the 3,475 Jewish respondent interviews, 1,098 were completed on cellphones while 2,377 were completed on Landlines (LL).

Among Jews by religion, 793 cell phone interviews, 1,993 LL;

Among Jews of no religion, 305 cell phone interviews, 384 LL.

In addition, 1,190 interviews were completed with non-Jews of Jewish background as well as 467 Jews of "Jewish affinity."

For estimation purposes, approximately 70,000 screening interviews were completed with non-Jewish persons.

 

Methodological details in Appendix A.  Field work was conducted for the Pew Research Center survey by Abt SRBI, which also reviewed the weighting and estimation procedures.

The DataBank expects the data file from the Pew Research Center's 2013 Study to be available by Fall, 2014, approximately one year after the release of the survey's main findings. 

Sample Size: 3,475 Jewish respondent interviews

Study Notes:

The DataBank thanks the Pew Research Center for allowing us to archive and post the complete report, A Portrait of American Jews: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews (see right side of this page for downloadable files and left side for links to Pew and related national studies). The complete report includes all Appendices for the Study as well as the Overview and content-based chapters. 

The DataBank has also made available as separate downloads at the Jewish DataBank: Appendix A: Methodology, Appendix B:  "Topline Questionnaire,"  Appendix C: "Supplemental Topline."  All are included in the complete report PDF.

The  Questionnaire, without topline results, is also available for downloading at both the DataBank and the Pew Research Center websites.  It is not included in the Main Report.

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SLIDE SET PRESENTATIONS: a DataBank slide set was added to the Pew, 2013 materials in July, 2015.  It provides a slide show overview of the 2013 data, as well as some additional analyses of the Pew data file.  It is available on right side of page for downloading; a color printer will provide the best printing results for this slide show, for those who choose to download and print the 107 slide compilation.

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Pew, 2013 Supplemental Materials: DataBank users should go to the Pew Research Center website to use its interactive features for analysis and exploration, as well as for additional materials and reports available only at the Pew Research Center website - as the Pew research team continues to analyze the data from the 2013 Study.  A Jewish Infographic, for example, focuses on the Orthodox and Jewish denominations as well as Jews of no religion, and on intermarriage. 

U.S. Religious Landscape Survey 2007 and 2014 (Pew).

Please also see the 2007 Pew Research Forum on Religion & Public Life survey of religious identity among Americans: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Religious Affiliation: Diverse and Dynamic, available at both the Berman Jewish DataBank and the Pew Research Forum website (which has additional maps for the 2007 survey as well as several interactive data features). In 2014, the Pew Research Center completed a followup survey, the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study.

PLEASE NOTE THAT BOTH OF THESE "LANDSCAPE" STUDIES ONLY PROVIDE ESTIMATES OF JEWS-BY-RELIGION, the JBR sub-group of the 2013 Pew Portrait of Jewish Americans.

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Before Pew.  The Pew Research Center 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans has received considerable public attention and discussion in the aftermath of its release, with many of the commentators acting as if there had not been any prior Jewish population studies which foreshadowed the Pew results, and rarely noting the discussions and controversies surrounding the three earlier NJPS (National Jewish Population Surveys).  Links to the three NJPS studies (1971, 1990 and 2000-01) are available under Links on the left.

In addition, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU-Wagner has released a very useful Reader's Guide which provides multiple links to discussions and criticisms of the earlier national studies. Compiled and organized by Shaul Kelner and Seth Chalmers in February, 2014, Before Pew: Debating the Future of U.S. Jews in Earlier Times is a most valuable edition to the literature on national Jewish population studies.

Language: English