Priced Out: How Household Income and Jewish Connections Determine Who Can't Afford Jewish Day School

Sponsor(s): Berman Jewish DataBank

Principal Investigator(s): Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Chaim Adler

Study Dates: 2016

Key Findings:

Income is an important factor in whether parents feel they can afford Jewish day school for their children.  Not surprisingly, the less income people have, the more likely they are to say that financial costs have prevented them from sending a child to day school.

But income does not by itself shape whether people feel day school is unaffordable.  Jewish connections affect the relationship between income and whether parents say they are priced out of day school.  In general, the more Jewish connections people have, the smaller role income plays in their assessments that day school is unaffordable. The fewer Jewish connections people have, the more prominent income is in determining whether day school is beyond their means.

These findings emerge from a Berman Jewish DataBank analysis of 11 local Jewish community studies conducted between 2002 and 2014, all of them part of the DataBank’s holdings.

To explain the findings, we surmise that people with more Jewish connections are also more likely to consider and value a day school education for their children. Therefore, they reduce the role of income in their decision-making, or put another way, they seek ways to make a day school education feasible with their current income.

In contrast, people with fewer Jewish connections are less likely to value day school education. As a result, their income plays a larger role when they consider whether or not day school is affordable, and they are more likely to think that the cost of a day school education is out of reach.  

The relationships among income, Jewish connections and day school unaffordability present the Jewish community with concerns about income inequality and day school accessibility among those with the least financial resources.  They also raise strategic considerations about how to make day school available to parents who want to send their children but feel they can’t afford it.  


Merged file of 11 local Jewish community studies: Atlanta 2006, Baltimore 2010, Columbus 2013, Denver 2007, New York 2002, Philadelphia 2009, Phoenix 2002, Pittsburgh 2002, San Diego 2003, San Francisco 2004 and St. Louis 2014.

Language: English