Where have the Amish been settling lately? How rapidly are they growing? Where are the Amish “hot spots” on the map?
Over the past half-decade or so, the Amish have boosted their presence on the US (and world) map by adding communities in new, often never-before-settled places.
These include four new states (Vermont, South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho), a pair of Canadian provinces (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), and even two South American countries (Argentina and Bolivia).
Thanks to a high birth rate and high retention, the Amish population is constantly growing. This leads to existing settlements getting denser, and inevitably, Amish in search of sparser pastures forming new ones.
On that note, I recently dipped back into an article in the Autumn 2015 Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies (“A Mid-Decade Update on Amish Settlement Growth” by Joseph F. Donnermeyer & Cory Anderson).
In this article, the authors look at places where the Amish are growing both regionally, and on a state/province level.
They note that “new settlement growth has been most pronounced in states bordering historic regions of Amish settlement.” They reference an Amish population doubling time of 20.5 years, similar to that seen in these Young Center figures. They break down Amish population figures by US Census Bureau region. You’ll also find some neat regional settlement maps (in addition to the density map, partially pictured above).
From the article, here are 5 interesting points on the Amish population, and where it may be headed:
- Roughly half of the Amish settlements in existence (exactly 500 communities as of December 2015), have been founded since 2000
- Only 18 of the 500+ settlements were founded pre-1900. As would be expected, these tend to be the largest Amish locations, places like Geauga County, OH, Lancaster County, PA, and Nappanee, IN – though a few are small (5-church district Somerset County, PA, 3-district Yoder, KS, or Oakland, MD, at 167 years old but a single church district in size)
- No Amish settlements created during the Great Depression years of the 1930s are still around. The authors also note a dip in new settlements during the peak “Great Recession” years of 2008-9
- New York state has been a noteworthy Amish expansion zone, with 52 settlements – 37 of which were founded since the turn of the century. The Empire State could soon have more distinct settlement locations (but not population) than either Pennsylvania or Ohio
- Finally – and this is more about prediction – the authors suggest their 2013 forecast of 561 Amish settlements by decade’s end may in fact be too low
Seven million Amish by 2100 still seems like a stretch, but given current trends, who knows.