And now for the good news: Jews do live longer
It is something we have suspected for years. But now the JC can reveal: Jewish people do live longer than their non-Jewish counterparts.
Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics suggest that there are nearly three times as many Jewish people who are 100 or older than there are in the general population. In the 2001 Census, twice the number of those in the Jewish community were 90 or more, compared to the rest of England and Wales.
David Graham, demographer at the Board of Deputies and co-author of Jews in Britain: A Snapshot from the 2001 Census (2007), said: “In the 2001 Census there were nearly 4,000 Jews aged 90 and above in England and Wales.
Miriam Shenker made 100 - as could you
“Three out of every four were women. They represented 0.8 per cent of the Jewish population. Although that doesn’t sound like much, it was over twice the proportion of people in that age group in the general population, which was 0.3 per cent.
“I would estimate that, proportionately, there are nearly three times as many Jewish centenarians as there are in the general population of England and Wales.”
The long lifespan Jews enjoy could be to do with the level of wealth and education in the community as well as our strong social networks. But there is no conclusive evidence to suggest belief in God has anything to do with it. “Jewish longevity can be explained by the relatively high level of educational achievement among the population and the equally high numbers of Jews in white collar jobs,” said Mr Graham. “Good education and good jobs tend to correlate closely with longer life-spans.”
Living longer has a notable impact on our median age. According to Mr Graham, the average male age in England and Wales is 36; among Jewish men, it is 41. For women, the average age in the general population is 38; in the Jewish community, it is 44.