How Do I Count Thee? Various Angles for Examining the Doubling Times of the Amish


  • Joseph F. Donnermeyer The Ohio State University



demography, doubling time, constant annual percentage increase, social and cultural change, The Diary, Raber's Almanac


The focus of this article is the measurement of how rapidly various parts of Amish society grow, including the number of settlements, households, church districts, and ordained men. "Amish society" means those Plain Anabaptist communities that both identify themselves as Amish and forbid car ownership. Doubling time was selected as the statistic to examine this growth. It is a measure of how quickly a population doubles; that is, its exponential growth. Most of the doubling times calculated for this article were within a few years of the doubling time estimate of 20 years for the Amish population in general, based on statistics from the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. The article concludes with a discussion of what these measures of growth mean for the future of Amish society and extrapolations, based on current doubling times, by decade from 2020 to 2050. Recommended is a greater focus among Plain Anabaptist scholars on the population dynamics of the Amish, arguing that demographic dimensions underlie possible changes in the social, cultural, religious, and economic features of the Amish through the remainder of the twenty-first century.