35 responses to Amish Population Numbers – 2013
  • *
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 05:36)

    Good morning,
    I was just thinking of the explosive growth of new Amish settlements in The Empire State. If I started out from my home at dawn and travelled around the Finger Lakes and Genesee Valley regions I could drive through 12 to 15 settlements by dusk. This would not give me time to visit, but the number of new settlements is hard to believe. Indeed this is a great area to travel the back roads.

    Tom the Backroads Traveller

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      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 08:00)

      I wonder if this is a state where you could cross it in its entirety traveling by buggy and staying at Amish homes each night. I think there are a few like that (OH, WI?).

      For that matter how far could you go across North America by horse and buggy with the stipulation that you had to stay in an Amish home each night and could only travel as far as the horse could in a single day?

      • *
        Debbie H
        Comment on crossing the country (June 12th, 2013 at 08:16)

        crossing the country

        Eric, that would be an exciting trip. Maybe you should try it since you know many Amish across the country. If my husband wasn’t ill and we were younger I would do it myself. Heck, if my husband was in good health I would do it now! 🙂

        • *
          Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 08:26)

          I agree it would. I think David Luthy used the above buggy trip hypothetical to describe the Amish population in a certain well-settled state or area but I can’t recall which. I do wonder how far you could go, say starting in Lancaster County or someplace in New York (I don’t think you could cross New England from Maine to get to the closest NY settlement, so can rule that starting point out 🙂 ).

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        Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 11:08)

        Start in the south western end of NYS in Mayville or Clymer go to Conewango go to Little Valley go to Delevan go to Angelica go to Wellsville go to Dansville go to Prattsburgh go to Jasper-Woodhull go to Addison. Then there is a long break to Fort Plains and now I am in an area I know little about. Start in my area (Rochester) go to Clyde-Waterloo go to Clyde-North Rose go to Mexico go to Pulaski go to Clayton go to Houvelton and then go along Route 11 through all the Swartzentruber settlements to the Swiss Amish hold out settlement that I think is still In Malone, Then there are Marathon, Summerhill, Lydonville, Mt Morris and others that out here by themselves. Happy travels.

        Tom the back roads traveller

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          Comment on I see a documentary in the works (June 12th, 2013 at 20:26)

          I see a documentary in the works

          I think Erik should develop that idea into a documentary series and a related book, I’m sure a reasonable network like PBS would pick it up, although I’m not sure about the odd reality focused National Geographic Channel (at least the NGC that I was exposed to in Canada strayed from the documentary style of the magazine’s format). I’d watch it.

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    Debbie H
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 07:56)

    I recently read, I believe it was on this site, that the Amish population was doubling every 20 years. At 20% since 2008 the numbers are slowing down. Very interesting though. I plan to visit the recommended articles for more info. Thanks Eric

    • *
      Comment on Amish population projection (June 12th, 2013 at 08:23)

      Amish population projection

      I don’t think that means it is slowing down…over the 20 years from 2008 to 2028 to keep pace with a doubled population projection, it still needs to increase by that remaining 80% from the 2008 baseline.

      But since it’s 20% larger today than in 2008, there would now be a larger population base now for it to grow from for the remaining 15 years of the 20-year period.

      If the Amish have a growth rate of about 3.5% per year (this gives you a doubling in about 20 years), they’ll be at 50% larger at about the 12-year mark. So 50% larger does not come at exactly 50% of the time period (10-year mark), but a little later.

      This is assuming no great changes take place in the meantime that might affect the rate of growth.

      There is a formula for this, also here is a simple calculator where you can punch in numbers and growth rates and see results for given time spans: http://www.metamorphosisalpha.com/ias/population.php

      Here are numbers for a population starting at a hypothetical 250,000 in 2008 (not exactly the Amish population then, but a nice round number that is close to the actual), through the year 2028, at a 3.5% growth rate:

      2008 – 250,000
      2009 – 258,750
      2010 – 267,806
      2011 – 277,179
      2012 – 286,880
      2013 – 296,921
      2014 – 307,313
      2015 – 318,069
      2016 – 329,202
      2017 – 340,724
      2018 – 352,649
      2019 – 364,992
      2020 – 377,767
      2021 – 390,989
      2022 – 404,673
      2023 – 418,837
      2024 – 433,496
      2025 – 448,668
      2026 – 464,372
      2027 – 480,625
      2028 – 497,447

      • Sustaining Populations and Population Growth, Especially New Order Amish

        Oh Erik.
        You’re doing and explaining math.
        Once I understood it.
        Once it made sense.
        Now I look at it and “see” eosjebcmlsdjbcfhiskandjd.
        The numbers, the population growth of the Amish is just amazing. I realize more growth occurs among the Old Orders ( and stricter groups, still ), as more of their children stay within the church, growing up to become members, marrying in the faith and often having quite a few more children, ( though I believe, on average, not as many as in the past — usually, anyway ), than the average “Englischer”. I wonder, though, about the more liberal groups, the “higher” churches, like the New Order Amish groups. From what I understand ( and that can often be wrong! ) they tend to have fewer children than the lower orders, and more of their children leave for even “higher” denominations, particularly Mennonite groups.

        It makes me wonder if groups like the New Order Amish and even Amish Mennonites can sustain themselves the way the Old Order Amish have. Will these higher churches eventually become so small that the few who remain will be “absorbed” into either Old Order or Mennonite groups? Do enough of the New Order children stay, become full members at baptism, and remain? Will the higher churches become more open to the “seekers,” to the potential converts? What would this influx of new blood bring to these groups? Sure, the New Orders are different from the Old Orders, but aren’t they like enough that a newcomer would need to learn PA German ( or PA Swiss, depending ), at least some High German, and become a part of the living, vibrant, God-respecting community — one where not only does everybody know your name, but they know your father’s, mother’s, children’s, and practically what you ate for supper last night *grin*. Would an influx of Englishers actually change the method of worship, perhaps more English being used in sermons? And, if so, would these churches even be able to call themselves by the epithet “New Order Amish,” or would they have been transformed into something else entirely?

        If the higher order Amish churches lose enough of their children to other Christian denominations or simply to their own ideas of life outside the boundaries of the Amish — basically, what I am wondering, is how can the New Order Amish groups maintain themselves without, at some point, simply merging into either other Amish churches or Mennonite ones?

        I guess I didn’t have so much of observations to offer, did I? I had more like “twenty questions” that we used to play as a reward in school *laughs*. I loved that game…eep, perhaps it shows a bit too much in this post!

        • *
          Comment on Amish birthrates across communities (June 13th, 2013 at 11:05)

          Amish birthrates across communities

          It’s interesting but it looks like the New Order at least in Holmes County has a higher birthrate than the Old Order in that community. The authors of An Amish Paradox speculate as to why–could be less like to use birth control, or have something to do with the specific New Order brand of spirituality (see p. 100 of that book).

          Generally speaking the more traditional Amish tend to have larger families…also the Swiss or Swiss-roots communities. According to An Amish Patchwork on Indiana Amish, Adams Co families average 9 children, while Allen and Daviess Co are at 8. Elkhart, Nappanee, and Kokomo are 7-6 (An Amish Patchwork p. 80).

          You raise a lot of interesting questions here…the New Order has a significantly lower retention rate of its youth compared to other groups in the Holmes County settlement. I wonder what it is like say in Mark Curtis’ Belle Center community which in some ways is more traditional than the New Order in Holmes county.

  • *
    Debbie H
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 08:44)

    Thanks for the information, it helped me see how it doubles.


    • *
      Comment on Amish population - Next 100 years (June 12th, 2013 at 09:09)

      Amish population - Next 100 years

      Thanks Debbie. Actually, since the above example does not exactly reflect the Amish starting point, I went ahead and put in the current estimated 2013 Amish population (281,675) and projected out for the next 100 years using a 3.5% growth rate. All the usual caveats apply of how things can change, etc.

      For what it’s worth, this is what it looks like. Half-a-million Amish by 2030, 1 million by 2050, over 5 million by 2100, and so on:

      2013 – 281,675
      2014 – 291,533
      2015 – 301,737
      2016 – 312,298
      2017 – 323,228
      2018 – 334,541
      2019 – 346,250
      2020 – 358,369
      2021 – 370,912
      2022 – 383,894
      2023 – 397,330
      2024 – 411,236
      2025 – 425,630
      2026 – 440,527
      2027 – 455,945
      2028 – 471,903
      2029 – 488,420
      2030 – 505,515
      2031 – 523,208
      2032 – 541,520
      2033 – 560,473
      2034 – 580,090
      2035 – 600,393
      2036 – 621,407
      2037 – 643,156
      2038 – 665,667
      2039 – 688,965
      2040 – 713,079
      2041 – 738,036
      2042 – 763,868
      2043 – 790,603
      2044 – 818,274
      2045 – 846,914
      2046 – 876,556
      2047 – 907,235
      2048 – 938,989
      2049 – 971,853
      2050 – 1,005,868
      2051 – 1,041,073
      2052 – 1,077,511
      2053 – 1,115,224
      2054 – 1,154,257
      2055 – 1,194,656
      2056 – 1,236,469
      2057 – 1,279,745
      2058 – 1,324,536
      2059 – 1,370,895
      2060 – 1,418,876
      2061 – 1,468,537
      2062 – 1,519,936
      2063 – 1,573,134
      2064 – 1,628,193
      2065 – 1,685,180
      2066 – 1,744,162
      2067 – 1,805,207
      2068 – 1,868,390
      2069 – 1,933,783
      2070 – 2,001,466
      2071 – 2,071,517
      2072 – 2,144,020
      2073 – 2,219,061
      2074 – 2,296,728
      2075 – 2,377,113
      2076 – 2,460,312
      2077 – 2,546,423
      2078 – 2,635,548
      2079 – 2,727,792
      2080 – 2,823,265
      2081 – 2,922,079
      2082 – 3,024,352
      2083 – 3,130,205
      2084 – 3,239,762
      2085 – 3,353,153
      2086 – 3,470,514
      2087 – 3,591,982
      2088 – 3,717,701
      2089 – 3,847,821
      2090 – 3,982,494
      2091 – 4,121,882
      2092 – 4,266,148
      2093 – 4,415,463
      2094 – 4,570,004
      2095 – 4,729,954
      2096 – 4,895,503
      2097 – 5,066,845
      2098 – 5,244,185
      2099 – 5,427,731
      2100 – 5,617,702
      2101 – 5,814,322
      2102 – 6,017,823
      2103 – 6,228,447
      2104 – 6,446,442
      2105 – 6,672,068
      2106 – 6,905,590
      2107 – 7,147,286
      2108 – 7,397,441
      2109 – 7,656,351
      2110 – 7,924,324
      2111 – 8,201,675
      2112 – 8,488,734
      2113 – 8,785,839

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on And the meek shall inherit the earth... (June 12th, 2013 at 09:55)

    And the meek shall inherit the earth...

    …wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, for the most part. I’d still need my “English” air conditioning in hot weather, but maybe moving further North would take care of THAT problem for me!

    Those numbers are impressive, Erik. I can only wonder what new “industries” the Amish would have to work in/build to house, feed, & clothe all those extra members? How do such increases affect them, how many new settlements would need to be founded? Would Ordnungs change (with each new community)? So many things to consider…

    I have a recurring daydream of moving to an Amish area—maybe offering my driving services…or just living in peace & quiet for a change. Dream on…, I guess!

    Alice Mary

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    Marvin Mohler
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 10:56)

    We lived all our life (I’m 75 now) until 5 years ago in IN & we visited northern IN 3 or 4 times a year. Loved going there. 5 Years ago we moved to WA State & now live in the Yakima Valley near a daughter. It is disappointing there are no Amish in WA. I wonder why.

  • *
    Matt from CT
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 13:24)

    If they keep up their birthrates and retention rates, in 20 years the Amish will possibly be more numerous then the population of our two smallest states, Vermont and Wyoming (but it’ll be close).

    In 40 years, there will be more Amish then there are currently residents of:
    New Hampshire
    Rhode Island
    South Dakota
    North Dakota

    Knowing some or all of those states should gain population, but the Amish are growing so much faster…in 40 years they’ll be larger then at least a half dozen states.

    It seems like the Amish have dialed in how to retain their members in the faith.

    What may affect these numbers though is if they start having a smaller families as they shift from primarily being farmers to being primarily artisans and mechanics. You can always use more small hands on a farm, not so much in a wood working shop.

    • *
      Comment on Declining Amish family size (June 13th, 2013 at 10:55)

      Declining Amish family size

      Matt this is a fascinating comparison and just a few decades away.

      As for smaller families, there have been signs of this–delaying childbirth in some case and a slightly lower birthrate. For instance Hurst and McConnell point to the slightly decreasing birthrates for the Holmes County settlement as a whole–over the past 17 years dropping from 5.3 to 5.0 children per family (all affiliations). The steepest declines in that community happened back in the 1940s and 50s however (see An Amish Paradox p. 100). Will it gradually but steadily decline in ensuing decades or stabilize at some point?

  • *
    Matt from CT
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 13:40)

    The other curiosity I have in my mind is what is the rate of growth of Mennonites?

    Their 2009 population was 387,000 but I couldn’t quickly find any other references from which I could figure out how fast they’re growing.

    If they are growing at rates similar to the Amish, since they tend to be more involved with the world…in 40 years they could be significant in both politics and religious conversations in the U.S. They may not dominate it, but they’d have more influence then say the United Church of Christ (the primary inheritor of the Congregational and Unitarian church traditions in the U.S.)

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 15:30)

      It depends on which Mennonites you mean…I think the total population of peoples that calls themselves “Mennonite” is actually larger than that number you give, and those that are Old Order would be quite a bit smaller. Is this the conservative/plain/OO Mennonite figure perhaps?

    • *
      Al in Ky
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 20:52)

      I would be interested in this, too, particularly the growth rate
      (or decline) of the plain Mennonite denominations. According
      to an article in The Mennonite World Review, 1/21/13, the Mennonite
      Church USA, the largest and most progressive Mennonite denomination, went from a membership of 120,381 in 2001 to 97,737 in 2013; quite a membership loss.

  • *
    Jean Junkin
    Comment on Population (June 12th, 2013 at 13:53)


    I was surprised on the Michigan Stats. I didn’t realize there were 39 settlements and 98 church districts. We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I believe there are no Amish settlements here. There is a Mennonite settlement in Baraga, MI, and also a very small one down on M-28, below the Seney Stretch. There’s so much land here for sale. I think the short growing seasons may keep them away. The one Mennonite community in Baraga, the men usually are loggers. Lots of prime forests here in the UP.

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 15:33)

      Jean I think there is one settlement in the UP (Mackinac County)…at least that was the case 2-3 years ago. Here’s a little more on that and previous UP Amish settlements:

      http://amishamerica.com/michigan-amish/#upper peninsula

  • *
    Comment on Suggestion For Future Article (June 12th, 2013 at 14:29)

    Suggestion For Future Article

    How about a future article on how the Amish name their babies. I know the names are Biblical in origin, but are there prohibitions against a baby named “Brittany” for example? Are Amish babies named after deceased ancestors, like some other religions do? Are the Amish allowed to peruse baby name books for ideas? Do they hold baby showers for the expectant mother? Is it permissible to use disposable diapers or are only cloth ones permitted? You get the idea. Just a suggestion for the future.

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 15:34)

      Great idea Katrina, thanks. Am always glad to hear ideas like this. In fact I should probably have a place to post suggestions just for this purpose as quite a few good posts have come from reader questions.

      • *
        Comment on Names (June 12th, 2013 at 19:56)


        Now, these girls I’m going to mention weren’t Amish, but they were Old Order Mennonite.

        I have always wondered about names among the Amish, and occasionally have seen some names that simply stand out from the “standard” names, while reading The Budget.

        But these two Mennonite girls, mentioned in the paper, had perhaps the most uncommon names I’ve seen printed there: both are named Ashley! I guess that name’s popularity “phase” didn’t entirely miss the Plain people *smiles*.

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 15:41)

      An Amish friend of mine who is approximately 65 years old has 69 grandkids. 7 of the boys are named after him. All the Amish I know name their children after parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters. A daughter of my Amish friend was just married and I ask her husband’s first name. She told me to guess. On my fourth try said Eli and I was correct. I asked his last name and again she said guess. On my first try I said Miller and I was correct. Emma Miller is now Emma Miller.

      Tom the back roads traveller

      • *
        Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 13th, 2013 at 22:01)

        Thank you. My ancestors were Amish, and my grandfather had the first name of Plesa. The only thing my family knows about this name is it was apparently popular in the late 1800’s, and that Plesa is mentioned in the Old Testament I have tried internet searching for this name with no success.

  • *
    Al in Ky
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 12th, 2013 at 21:01)

    Thanks for informing us that the new population figures are
    available. I will share this with a couple of Amish friends who
    have much interest in Amish population growth in the U. S.
    I was interested to see how dramatic the growth has been in Ky.
    It seems like I read in The Budget of one or more new settlements
    in Ky each year. It’s interesting to read how supportive some of
    the new settlements are of each other — lots of visiting back and
    forth and attending each other’s church services.

  • *
    Comment on Average number of children (June 13th, 2013 at 14:37)

    Average number of children

    It seems average number of children per women fell down to five.

    It is stated in Amish studies website.


  • *
    Comment on Uber-high fertility groups (June 13th, 2013 at 14:59)

    Uber-high fertility groups

    How numerous are the uber-conservative, uber-high fertility groups relative to the general Amish population?

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 14th, 2013 at 10:17)

      Mark I need to check into this question a little more before I try to answer. This would make a good blog post in itself.

      • *
        Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 14th, 2013 at 21:35)

        Its interesting to me because if 10% of the Amish are high fertility, say, 10 kids per family, and 90% of the Amish are regular fertility, say 5 kids per family, in only 3 generations, there will be as many babies being born to the descendants of the high fertility group as to the average fertility group.

        So… Who are the Amish going to be in 100 Years…

  • *
    Sandra Kathleen
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 13th, 2013 at 18:40)

    What is the rate of birth defects among the Amish? Is it very different from the US population as a whole? Are there any health conditions that are more frequent than the rest of the US population? I guess what I’m getting at is that with the population kneading in and around itself, are there health risks that are presented because the gene pool is more or less limited?

    A similar question revolves around cancer rates, rates of COPD, etc. being lower than the general US population, because presumably there is less contamination from carbon emissions. Is it accurate to assume that pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are not used on Amish farms?

    • *
      Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 14th, 2013 at 10:15)

      Sandra the general answer to your first group of questions is that yes there are certain genetic diseases more present among Amish and Mennonites than in the general population. A number of presentations at the conference addressed some of the genetic issues that afflict Amish. The Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster County works on these afflictions and has a special relationship with the Plain community. It is expanding to other locations. There are also other centers such as the DDC Clinic in Middlefield Ohio: http://ddcclinic.org/ Amish are generally very supportive of these efforts and cooperate in the various studies being done.

      I don’t know the answer to the question about birth defects. I’d expect that alcohol or drug-caused defects would be lower to nonexistent among Amish though I would guess that is just one cause of birth defects.

      As to your second question, in fact all those are used on Amish farms. The Amish farm that does not use some sort of chemical or fertilizer is the exception. Organic farming is still a minority practice among Amish. I can understand why some are surprised by this.


      • *
        Comment on Amish and pesticides (June 18th, 2013 at 20:06)

        Amish and pesticides

        I totally agree with you, Erik. I actually believed for a long time that they did not use pesticides, but it wasn’t until I met “organic” Amish in Michigan that I realized that they (the organic variety) really were the exception. The settlement in Homer, Michigan, is very much supportive of organic practices (like many in the group in Unity, ME), but I would suspect that there is ample pesticide usage in, say, LaGrange/Shipshewana area. Just look at some of their yards… 🙂

        The other myth I think is interesting is that all Amish eat healthy, nutrient-rich diets. We just took a trip down to Shipshewana today, and the amount of junk food in the carts of Amish customers at E & S Bulk Foods actually far exceeded most of the English! It was also pretty hard to find anything organic at E & S; they had a tiny section there…maybe one shelf section’s worth. There was also surprisingly a gluten-free section…which boasted high gluten wheat flour.

        Also toured through the Quincy, MI settlement today, and there wasn’t a soul out in the Amish communities we passed through. Wonder if there was a funeral today…

  • *
    Comment on Amish Population Numbers – 2013 (June 17th, 2013 at 18:16)

    I live in Minnesota and I’m not surprised that the Amish population is growing. In fact, three new districts just started in my hometown of Milaca. I believe most of them relocated from other areas in Minnesota, but I have also heard that some were from Iowa. My in-laws had a nice chat with them at Walmart a few weeks ago and the Amish woman said they were anxiously awaiting the soil to dry up so they could get their garden planted. She also mentioned that she would like to do catering, which I thought was very interesting. They have a large family and are looking for more land to buy so their children can relocate there as well. My in-laws are hoping several of them would buy the farm across the road from them. I’m sure they would love to taxi them in exchange for home baked goods!

    I have been in contact with an Amish family in Mora and can’t wait to receive my first CSA. They are also offering boxes of canned goods, baked goods, dairy products, and personal care items. I love knowing exactly where my food is coming from in addition to supporting this young family.

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