Christmas 2021: Christians in Israel

On the eve of Christmas, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) released statistics on the Christian population in the country.

By Erin Viner

About 182,000 Christians live in Israel, compromising approximately 1.9% of the population.

24% responded that they were “very satisfied” with their lives in the Jewish State, and 60% said they were “satisfied.”

The Christian community increased by 1.4% in 2020.

76.7% of the Christians are of Arab ethnicity, constituting 7.0% of the total Arab population of Israel, with 70.3% living in the Northern District and 13.5% in the areas of the coastal city of Haifa.

It is interesting to note that 41.7% of the non-Arab Christians reside in the Tel Aviv and Central Districts, as compared to 34.2% in the Northern and Haifa Districts, according to the CBS.

By the end of 2020, localities registering the largest Arab Christian populations are Nazareth with 21,400 believers, Haifa with 16,500, followed by 12,900 in Jerusalem and 10,400 in Shefar’am.

When it comes to love, 803 Christian couples married in Israel in 2019. The average age at the first marriage of Christian grooms was 30.3 and brides was 26.7.

2,497 babies were born to Christian families, 72% of whom (1,797) were born to Arab mothers.

Christian families have on average 1.93 children who 17 years old or younger, while that rate is 2.43 among Jews and topped by Muslims at 2.6.

There are 27,044 Christian students registered for the 2020/21 academic year in Israel, with a 81.6% matriculation level by seniors last year.

When it comes to higher education, 53.1% of the Arab Christians and 35.4% of non-Arab Christians continued their studies toward a first university degree within 8 years of graduating high school – compared to 47.2% of all secondary school graduates in Hebrew education. Christians make up the highest proportion of female students, particularly in the advanced degrees: with 64.1% (out of a 53.2% overall female student body) studying for PhDs; and 72.9% (of a 63.8% total) of those studying for a Master’s degree. Christian candidates for Bachelor’s degrees are most highly represented in musicology (15.1%), management information systems (12.4%) and transportation engineering (11.2%).

In the work force, 17,500 Christians were registered at the Ministry of Labor, Welfare, and Social Services last year. The employment rate for Christians per 1,000 persons is 98, compared with 107 for Jews and 183 for Muslims.

Only 3,500 Christians were placed within social service frameworks during 2020. This was far lower than other communities, represented per 1,000 people by about 20, while there were 28 in the Jewish and 32 in the Muslim communities.