Amish Population Numbers – 2013

Amish population figures are available for 2013 on the Amish Studies website. Among the new numbers you’ll find:

  • Total church districts is estimated at 2,056
  • The Amish population has risen 20% since 2008
  • The top 10 states with Amish account for 92% of the total population
  • “High-growth” states over the past 21 years include New York, Minnesota, and Tennessee.  Among the “slow-growth” are Delaware and North Carolina

US Amish Population EstimatesFor more information see “Amish Population by State (2013)”; “Amish Population Trends 2008-2013, 5-Year Highlights”; and “Amish Population Trends 1992-2013, 21-Year Highlights.”

If you know me, you know I am always interested in anything to do with Amish population.  I’d be curious to hear what stands out for you among the new estimates. What signs of Amish growth have you noticed?

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    35 Comments

    1. 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

      1. 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?

        1. Debbie H

          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! 🙂

          1. 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 🙂 ).

        2. Erik,
          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

          1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

            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.

    2. Debbie H

      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

      1. 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

        1. Sadie

          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.
          LOL!
          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!

          1. 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.

    3. Debbie H

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

      Debbie

      1. 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

    4. Alice Mary

      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

    5. Marvin Mohler

      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.

    6. Matt from CT

      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:
      Maine
      New Hampshire
      Rhode Island
      Montana
      Delaware
      South Dakota
      Alaska
      North Dakota
      D.C.
      Vermont
      Wyoming

      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.

      1. 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?

    7. Matt from CT

      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.)

      1. 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?

      2. Al in Ky

        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.

    8. Jean Junkin

      Population

      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.

      1. 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:

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

    9. Katrina

      Suggestion For Future Article

      Erik,
      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.

      1. 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.

        1. Sadie

          Names

          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*.

      2. Katrina,
        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

        1. Katrina

          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.

    10. Al in Ky

      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.

    11. Vetri

      Average number of children

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

      It is stated in Amish studies website.

      http://www2.etown.edu/amishstudies/Population_Growth_2013.asp

    12. Mark

      Uber-high fertility groups

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

      1. 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.

        1. Mark

          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…

    13. Sandra Kathleen

      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?

      1. 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.

        https://amishamerica.com/do-amish-use-pesticides/

        1. Emily

          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…

    14. Erin

      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.