A Goldmine for Geeks

Every few weeks, I get a call from a reporter, student or amateur researcher looking for statistics on intermarriage. Usually I can quickly answer the question–47% of Jews marrying between 1996-2000 married non-Jews, 28 million American are intermarried, 31% of all Jews were intermarried as of 2000–but sometimes I have to look things up. My secret weapon? The North American Jewish Data Bank.

The Data Bank is a comprehensive source for Jewish demographic information. It includes every–or nearly every–digitally available geographically focused demographic study in the North America, going back to the 1925 Jewish Communal Survey of Greater New York. Within months of any new study being published, it ends up on the Data Bank.

The Data Bank includes every national study of American Jewry going back to the first National Jewish Population Survey in 1971–and each annual report on the U.S. Jewish population in the American Jewish Yearbook dating to 1949. It also includes statistics from the Canadian census, which, unlike the U.S. Census, asks respondents about religious identification. 

There are also all kinds of topical reports on the Jewish Data Bank, from a report on gays and the Conservative movement to an analysis of Jewish political preferences in the 2008 presidential election.

Most exciting for us, the Databank has given special attention to intermarriage. They’ve prepared a simple set of tables on rates of intermarriage in 52 U.S. communities.

You need to register to access any materials on the site, but registration is free and open to anyone, as best as I can tell.

Outside the small world of demographers and sociologists who study the Jewish world, surprisingly few people know about this goldmine of demographic data. While many of the studies in its archive are cited in stories on American Jewry, I have never once seen a reference to the Data Bank. In a Google News search of online articles, the Data Bank has only been mentioned about 50 times since 1987.

Demographers tend not to be a spotlight-hungry lot, but I’d love to see more people aware of this truly fantastic resource. I hope this post does its small part.

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