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 (Israelnationalnews.com)
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!