Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to Avigayil as the Wellsprings of Salvation Overflow (K"Y)

Erev Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is Shabbos and that marks a year since the processing of the following post:

Besides using the opportunity to congratulate my wife for popping out our latest maidel, I made the following points:

Anybody who claims that the cutbacks in child allowance payments have caused a reduction in birthrates in the Chareidi sector has not been hanging around Maayanei Hayeshua.

My sister says Maayanei HaYeshua is doing about 700 births/month (works out to about 1 baby/hour) and over 8000 / per year.

8000 chareidi kids (ken yirbu) just from Maayanei HaYeshua!

That means that in 3 years we will need gans for 8000 kids.

This invoked some interesting dialog in the comments section. I quote:

I'm no math genius, but...Why not just re-use the ones that will be vacated by today's 8,000 3 yr. olds?
My response:

Was that a serious question? I obviously didn't mean that we will need 8000 new gan spaces. What is certain is that they were not churning out 8000/year 3 years ago. Let us guess that they were doing, say, 6000/ year. Then we will need 2000 more over what we have now.

So here I am saying that in 2008, there were approximately 8000 births at MHY and I am speculating that in 2005 they were doing about 6000. Of course, this did not go unchallenged:

>>What is certain is that they were not churning out 8000/year 3 years ago.

I'm not as certain as you are. What makes you so certain?

I respond to the challenge:

>>I'm not as certain as you are.

You probably also are not related to any MHY midwives as we are and you probably have not had any births at MHY as we have (5 since 1999, ken yirbu).

That was almost exactly one year ago, and what a difference a year can make. To follow is a current news item from Israel National News (Arutz 7):

Record 900 Births in One Month in Bnei Brak Hospital

Tishrei 24, 5770, 12 October 09 09:36

by Gil Ronen (

Maayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak has released statistics according to which a record number of births took place in the hospital in September. More than 900 babies were delivered in that month, 100 more than the previous record month, December 2008.

The hospital said that close to 500 of the babies born in September 2009 were boys, and that about 10 percent of the births were of twins. The record number for babies born during a single eight-hour shift during September was 24, or three per hour, and the single day with the most births was the high holiday of Yom Kippur 5770. More than 40 babies were born on that day alone. The hospital said that its doctors have determined that the relatively high number of births on Yom Kippur is not due to fasting by patients.

The head of the hospital's Mothers and Women Section, Dr. Benny Chen, said that the most impressive statistic related to the number of natural births, as opposed to caesarean sections, at the hospital. “By G-d's grace, the average rate of natural births is 88.5 percent,” he said. “Only 12.5 percent were born in a caesarean section – about half the national rate.”

Dr. Chen said that the number of births at the hospital has grown by about 10 percent annually since 2006. There were 8,742 babies born in the hospital in 2008 – compared to 6,968 in 2006. The hospital is Israel's fourth largest in terms of births per year.

The name “Maayanei Hayeshua” means “the Springs of Salvation” and is taken from a verse in Chapter 12 of the Book of Isaiah.

Well, how do like that? Here we have official statistics: 8,742 births in 2008 versus 6,968 in 2006. This works out to an increase of 1,774 births over the two years. This is a combined increase of over 25% for the two years and incrementally it works out to almost exactly a 12% yearly increase, not the measely 10% that Dr. Chen (a doctor but not a mathematician - note that 88.5% plus 12.5% = 101%!) reported.

Incidentally, by the same rate, it means that there were approximately 12% fewer births in 2005 which comes to the neighborhood of 6,221 - and I said 8000 to 6000. Not bad, huh?

Now, if this is a true indication of the chareidi birthrate in Eretz Yisrael, it tells us some very exciting but scary things. On the plus side, there can never be too many ovdei Hashem and shomrei Torah u'mitzvos. Keep them coming!

On the minus side, I may have been a bit conservative about the shortage of gan space. If the difference between 2005 and 2008 is around 2,520 souls (8,742 - 6221), that's a lot more needed gan space than I speculated.

But what is of a deeper concern is the so-called "shidduch crisis". I have previously maintained (see this post) that in the chareidi world there is no functional shidduch crisis, meaning that people are getting married left and right and any boy with a pulse and a briss can get a shidduch. The problem is a demographic one relating to the imbalance between available boys to girls.

To use the Bnei Brak numbers we have in front of us, let us assume that the overall male/female birth ratio is an even 50-50. There were about 8,742 MHY births in 2008 of which we assume 4,371 are girls (and 4,371 are boys). These girls will be ready to enter the shidduch market at about 2026 when they are 18. So in 2026 we expect 4,371 girls to announce eligibility. The boys from this crop will not (on average) announce eligibility until about 3 years later when they are 21. In 2026, it will be the boys born in 2005 who will now be 21 who will enter the shidduch market to contend with the new 4,371 girls born in 2008. And how many boys should we expect to see?

Half of 6220 or about 3110 boys.

So in 2026 we expect 3110 new boys to enter the shidduch market when there will be 4,371 girls.

That's over 40% more girls than boys!!

This is a very serious problem and I cannot think of any practical solutions. The only thing that I can come up with is that, from now on, we should hold every girl in gan for an extra 3 years.

Will we have enough gan space?

Oh, how I wish I was in the prefabricated caravan business!


Yisroel said...

Absurd though this may sound, why not tell girls that they can't expect to get married the moment they want to?

(They could spend 3 years working, and saving money to support their future family. Or even, given that we spend extra time in Yeshiva, they could spend extra time in Sem.)

I'm afraid that I can't accept what you say that "This is a very serious problem and I cannot think of any practical solutions." I feel that the problem is a figment of the charedi (or better, the RaShBY) imagination. You get married when you find the right person to marry - and that will happen when it is the right time for it to happen.

Anonymous said...

Yisroel, you are missing the point. It is accepted the world over that the husband is older than the wife, therefore the girl enters shidduchim at a younger age.

Of course you dont get married until you find your bashert. No one is arguing that point. At least not as far as I can tell.

And Reb 1u7d - this has been the shidduch crises for the past few years. You didnt stumble onto a big chiddush here. This has been out in the open.

Just to challenge the numbers a little, MY hospital has been actively recruiting people to come there to give birth - I think as opposed to yerushalayim - so the increase there might NOT be indicitive of the overall increase in chareidi births.

Nevertheless, even if its a 3% increase per year, there will still be a 10% overflow annually of girls who wont get married. Still crisis material

SephardiLady said...

A single hospital does not a demographic study make.

Yisroel said...

"Of course you dont get married until you find your bashert. No one is arguing that point."
But that wasn't my point. I feel that to call this a crisis is a misnomer.
The emotive view: Oh no! This girl has been waiting for a year to find a shidduch because not enough boys are looking for one! This is a crisis! (Let's hold a mass Tehillim evening! Or something of the sort, that seems so often to be the Jewish equivalent of homoeopathy.)
My view: Let's see... fewer boys than girls are looking for shidduchim. So that means that girls should not be surprised if they don't get married till, say, 20, rather than finding a shidduch on their 18th birthday.

To put the same thing differently, surely the "crisis" is being caused by the perception that girls "have" to get married earlier than boys?
The shared social constructs we create define how our society will look. If the population is growing and yet we insist girls marry younger than boys, we are setting ourselves up for trouble.
Do something. Address the problem in whatever way seems to you to be most consistent with Jewish values.

I don't want this to turn in to a comment "war," so I will not reply again, but I will read what anyone else thinks.

Yechezkel said...

>>I feel that to call this a crisis is a misnomer.

The reason it is called a crisis is because on a yearly basis, there are more girls entering the shidduch market than boys. There is no practical way to end this trend. But, you could call it something else if you like.

>>If the population is growing and yet we insist girls marry younger than boys,...

We don't insist anything. Girls go looking for husbands when they are ready to. Boys go looking for wives when they are ready to. It happens all by itself. And as I just said, every year there are more new girls looking for husbands than there are new boys looking for wives - 'cuz the boys are kind of slow. And these girls go into competition with all the 20 year old "hags" who still haven't found husbands because there have been more girls looking for husbands than boys looking for wives ever since they started playing the game. And the 18 y/os and 20 y/os are all posing competition for the remaining 22-plus crowd which is getting more crowded as time goes by.

TheBearInTheHouseOfSun said...

First, this demographic cause of the "shidduch crisis" was suggested years ago by Yonason Rosenblum. His December 2006 article is here.

This is also the subject of a recent Kol Koreh here. This claims that "it's been revealed that the PRIMARY CAUSE of the situation is that boys prefer girls who are a few years younger...." The conclusion is a call for shidduchim when girls are 20 or above.

All that said, I think that it's missing the point to call this the PRIMARY cause of a crisis. Are we so sure that all the boys and girls that are unmarried at 30 haven't said "no" to someone that might have been a good match, based on unreasonable expectations or incorrect objectives? Are we so sure that the kids unmarried at 30 don't have emotional issues that lead them not to commit to entering a marriage? Are we so sure that we're doing our kids a favor by filtering out, or encouraging them to filter out, any potential shidduch that doesn't meet our hashkafic ideal?

Why do I think these other things might be factors? Because we're also seeing a spike in religious divorce.

Unfortunately it feels too easy to blame demographics.

Keels said...

There is one correction that should be noted - Globally, there are about 105-107 boys born for every 100 girls.
So if you take that into account, the problem is a bit smaller.

kurkevan said...

Once we're on the topic...

TheBearInTheHouseOfSun said...

Interesting article on the subject - I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it's an interesting read, and on the subject.

Julie said...

Re Anonymous -
You are right that we need to consider the possibility that More babies are being born at MHY Hospital because women are choosing to go there who in previous years might have gone elsewhere. Look at the statistic of 10% twins - much higher than average. I would guess that women who are expecting twins might choose to go to MHY because they heard that they have a better chance there of not having a C-section. Similar factors might make the hospital popular for other expectant mothers.