Population Growth and Fertility Patterns in an Old Order Amish Settlement: A 21-Year Follow-Up Study





Amish, fertility, population growth, natural fertility


This report describes population growth and fertility patterns in the Amish settlement centered in Geauga County, Ohio, and in particular, evaluates whether its fertility behavior is that of a natural fertility population. The dates of birth and death, location of household inside or outside the Geauga Settlement, and church status of all household members for the period up to January 1, 2014, were used to estimate population size, population structure, and various measures of fertility behavior. The results based on the 2014 directory were compared with similar data from the 1993 directory (Greksa, 2002) in order to estimate population growth rates and to determine if there has been change over time in population structure and fertility patterns.

The settlement consisted of 15,579 individuals distributed in 3,016 households in 107 districts as of January 1, 2014. The average annual growth rate between 1993 and 2014 was 3.0%, with a doubling time of 23.0 years. Mean completed marital fertility was 6.9 live births, ranging from 0 to 17 births. There is a consistent pattern of decreasing total fertility rates (TFR) between 1924 and 2014. In particular, bivariate linear regression indicated that TFR decreased by about 1.7 births during this period. Despite the decrease in fertility over time, which is consistent with the use of birth control measures, the decrease in fertility appears to be independent of parity, suggesting that the Amish in the Geauga Settlement are still a natural fertility population.