Europe’s Jewish population drops by 60%, study finds

Samuel Osborne
·2 min read
While 88 per cent of the world’s Jewish population lived in Europe in the late 19th century, only 9 per cent lives there now (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
While 88 per cent of the world’s Jewish population lived in Europe in the late 19th century, only 9 per cent lives there now (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Europe’s Jewish population has fallen by 60 per cent in the last 50 years, a study has found.

While 88 per cent of the world’s Jewish population lived in Europe in the late 19th century, only nine per cent lives there now, according to the study for the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

The report said the figures are now as low as they were 1,000 years ago and are falling over time.

It found an estimated 1.3 million Jewish people live in Europe in total in 2020, accounting for 0.1 per cent of the continent’s population. Two-thirds live in the UK, France and Germany.

“The proportion of Jews residing in Europe [in 2020] is about the sameas it was at the time of the first Jewish global population account conducted by Benjaminof Tudela, a Jewish medieval traveler, in 1170,” the report says.

The report, titled Jews in Europe at the Turn of the Millennium, investigates how the Europe’s Jewish population has changed.

It says: "Jews have not only been an integral part of European history and culture but are actuallyone of its oldest and original component groups.

“However, throughout history, the inherent weakness of a landless and powerless minority vis-à-vis territorially based societies and their constituted powers often put the Jews in a condition of dependency and instability, and translated into powerful ups and downs in the Jewish presence.”

The number of Jewish people climbed to 10 million between the end of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries, with a global Jewish population of 16.5 million on the eve of the Second World War, representing the point of maximum growth ever reached.

The Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered, reduced the population to an estimated 11 million by 1945.

By 1945, 35 per cent of the world’s Jews lived in Europe, falling to 26 per cent in 1970 and 9 per cent in 2020.

The authors highlight three key events behind the change since the Second World War: the establishment of the state of Israel, the retreat of colonialism from Africa and Asia and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they describe as “push factors behind the large-scale Jewish migration that both took Jews away from Europe and added them to it, yet in the net outcome, took away more than it added”.

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