National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 1990

Sponsor(s): Council of Jewish Federations (CJF), Mandell Berman Institute - North American Jewish Data Bank at the University of Connecticut

Principal Investigator(s): Barry A. Kosmin, Sidney Goldstein, Joseph Waksberg, Nava Lerer, Ariela Keysar, Jeffrey Scheckner

Study Dates: June 1989 - July 1990

Population Estimates:

The National Jewish Population Study, 1990 estimated a Core Jewish Population of 5.5 million persons -  the precise number was 5,515,000 Jews, of whom 5,415,000 lived in household settings and an estimated 100,000 lives in "institutional settings."

The Core Jewish population included:

  • 4,210,000 Jews born Jewish who identified as Jewish by religion (BJR);
  • 1,120,000 Jews who were born Jewish and consider themselves to be Jewish, but answered the question on religion as none, atheist or agnostic -  "secular Jews" -  JNR (Jews no religion);
  • 185,000 persons who define themselves as Jewish now but were not born as Jews (Jews by Choice-  JBC -converts).

In 1970, the Core Jewish population was 5.4 million

Pages 4-10 of the Highlights report describe more fully the complex nature of Jewish identity and provide alternate estimates of the numbers of Jews in the US, based upon birth status and current religious identification.

Sample:

National Adult Jewish households in the United States

Sample Size: 2441 Jewish respondents

Sample Notes:

Sample taken from initial random screening of 125,813 households ("the Screening Sample") done in conjunction with the  National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI) which began in April 1989, with ICR (International Communications Research) doing the screeneng interviews as part of its Excel omnibus weekly survey.  The estimate of the number of Jewish households (3.2 million) derives from this phase of the study.

In the Spring and Summer of 1990, Jewish identified households in Stage 1 were recontacted and then in a final phase,,re-interviewed with an extended questionnaire.  .

The final NJPS data sample included 2,441 Jewish households, which included 6,514 individuals.  All data on Jewish characteristics, demographics, connections, etc., are derived from the second set of extended interviews with Jewish households.

The Methodological report written by Dale Kulp and Gerard A. Holzbaur provides detailed data on the interviewing and re-interviewing process -  and the population estimate process.

In the brief methodological summary at the end of the Highlights, the difficulty of re-interviewing respondents at a later date was described:

  • Not all households which were initially classified as Jewish in the "Screening" phase were classified as Jewish in the second, interviewing phase.  " A particular concern in the NJPS was the fairly large number of cases where respondents in households reporting the presence of one or more Jews in the screening operation, reversed themselves in the detailed interview. Of all households reported as having Jews in the screener, 18 percent were reported as non-qualified in the detailed interview. There was a possibility that this was hidden form of refusal, rather than errors in the original classification of the households or changes in household membership."

In essence, just under half of all "Jewish" households contacted during the 15-month screening phase provided complete information for the survey.  [Please note that subsequent national studies of Jewish households and respondents typically avoided any time gap between initial screening and data collection.]

Language: English


Downloads

Survey Reports

» NJPS 1990: Highlights of the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey: Summary Report
(PDF)

» Profile of American Jewry
(PDF)

» Towards a National Survey in 1990
(PDF)

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» Questionnaire
(PDF)

» Unweighted Frequencies
(PDF)

» Weighted Frequencies
(PDF)

» Methodological Report
(PDF)

Data Files and Data Definitions

» Zipped SPSS Data File
(ZIP)

Other Documentation

» User's Manual
(PDF)

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