Data from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey are used to examine levels of and trends in Jewish fertility in the United States. Differences are examined between contemporary Jewish and non- Jewish fertility as well as within Judaism. Jewish fertility levels continue to be below those for all white American women, largely due to the substantially higher educational level of American Jews in comparison with others combined with a strong negative association between education and fertility.
There are significant differences in fertility within the Jewish population. The Orthodox have substantially more children than other groups. However, this has little overall impact on Jewish fertility because of the very small proportion of Orthodox in the Jewish population. In multivariate analyses, synagogue attendance and involvement with the holiday rituals show a strong positive association with childbearing. The nature of the causation between these factors remains ambiguous and may be life- cycle related.
In general, results suggest that current fertility levels are perhaps too low to assure long- term population replacement. Based on current patterns, it is not likely the that current generation of childbearing age will bear, on average, over two children by the end of their childbearing years.