Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Orthodox Attrition: Some Data



Of the 60 people who answered in the General Social Survey that they had been Orthodox Jews at age 16, more than 70% identified as non-Orthodox at the time of the survey. For all the talk about Conservative and Reform attrition, it looks like Orthodox attrition is higher, although they no doubt make up for it by increased birth rate.

I can think of any number of reasons why people who are still Orthodox Jews are underrepresented in this study, and it's a shame that N is so small, but I've had a hard time finding good data on this subject. I think it's interesting stuff.

9 comments:

Tigerboy said...

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he said.

I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Well … are you religious or atheist?”

“Religious.”

“Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?”

“Christian.”

“Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

“Baptist.”

“Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!”

To which I said, “Then die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

Tigerboy said...

I think it is interesting that one must consider "birth rate" when talking about adherents to a system of beliefs about how the universe operates.

Orthodoxy, as well as every other religious philosophy on Earth, depends upon the indoctrination of young children for its survival. Once children become old enough to think for themselves, many will recognize the lie for what it is. But the firmly held beliefs of youth are very hard to shake.

Does anyone question that the firmly held beliefs of a Hindu youngster would be very different were he raised by other parents?

Does anyone question that the firmly held beliefs of a Baptist youngster would be very different were she raised by other parents?

As the song goes:

"You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"

Orthoprax said...

JA,

I wonder, what's the attrition rate for atheists? I suspect it's higher than you may think.

GoingGoingGone said...

You mention a few of the limitations and I understand that there is not enough information out there, but I would definitely be wary of the statistics shown. I think there were probably major research-design related limitations here, and that the figures are not representative of the Orthodox population as a whole (in fact, I would be very curious as to their methodology).

jewish philosopher said...

As far as I can tell, from all the information I have been able to find, is that the ultra-Orthodox have about a 3% attrition rate and the modern Orthodox about 10%. At a 20 reunion, people don't find out that half the alumni no longer keep Shabbos.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Pretty much what JP said above, based purely on anecdotal evidence.

From my mainstream black-hat yeshiva high school, only 2 out of 30 from my graduating class of 1999 are currently OTD.

Will the numbers go up over the the next 10 years? Yeah, it's possible, but I really can't see only 10 people in my class showing up with yarmulkas at the 20th year reunion.

Jewish Atheist said...

JP and LWY:

I actually agree with you guys. These numbers don't pass the smell-test. I just wish there were some better data.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"For all the talk about Conservative and Reform attrition, it looks like Orthodox attrition is higher, although they no doubt make up for it by increased birth rate."

The Orthodox attrition rate is not what it was. It has gone down. Only when you fail to divide up the immigrant years from later do you land up with a higher attrition rate. As for Reform their rate is amazingly high. Most Reform were not born Reform. Most who were born Reform left for unfornately nowhere.

Rabban Gamliel said...

“Does anyone question that the firmly held beliefs of a Hindu youngster would be very different were he raised by other parents?

Does anyone question that the firmly held beliefs of a Baptist youngster would be very different were she raised by other parents?"

Does anyone question that the firmly held beliefs of an atheist youngster would be very different were she raised by other parents?

More powerful then the indoctrination of parents is the indoctrination of the society the parents come from. Judaism has more of a pull on an average atheist Jew who was raised without Judaism than on an average Gentile. If parents raise you contrary to the society that the parents are from your loyalty to how you were raised can be affected as you don’t just feel a connection to your parents but to your family and people. You feel you are a part of something greater that defines your identity.