New Report Shows “Significant Demographic Shifts” on the UK Jewish Landscape

A new Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) report issued this week provides critical evidence of how the Jewish population of the UK is becoming increasingly concentrated in just a few key geographical centres, while many formerly strong Jewish areas both in and beyond London are “thinning out.”

The report, entitled “Thinning and Thickening: Geographical change in the UK’s Jewish community 2001-2011”, describes how the number of Jews living in certain core areas has grown considerably over the last decade, whereas the number in other core areas has declined. Put simply, there are now more Jews in fewer places across the UK.

Most of the ‘thickening’, or growth, has been concentrated in just a few places, for example the London Boroughs of Barnet and Hackney, Salford and Bury in Manchester, and Hertsmere. But decline has been similarly concentrated. In absolute terms the greatest thinning has occurred in the London Boroughs of Redbridge and Harrow, as well as Leeds, Brighton and Hove, and East Renfrewshire in Glasgow.

In addition to migration from thinning to thickening areas, the report maintains that the changes are also due to natural increase or decrease (the balance between births and deaths) in certain areas, and to an element of assimilation.

The report also includes new data from the 2011 Scottish Census, outlining in detail the changing size of the Jewish population there. It shows an overall decline of 8% between 2001 and 2011, with Glasgow showing a loss of 21% over the decade. However, it also demonstrates Jewish population growth in certain parts of Scotland, notably in Edinburgh.

With data from both Scotland and Northern Ireland now added for the first time to previously-published figures for England and Wales, the report also provides a “lower limit” for the UK Jewish population as a whole in 2011 of just under 270,000. Yet it acknowledges that, as a lower limit, this figure likely understates the total size, not least because of the way religion data are gathered in the census.