One Million Amish

The current Amish population stands at around 385,000 people, based on estimates from the Young Center at Elizabethtown College (or perhaps a bit more than that, since they came out several months ago). Personally, it’s remarkable to look back and consider how much the Amish have grown in the time I’ve known them.

In fact, I came across an old post the other day where I described the Amish population at around 200,000 people, which made me do a double take. That number seemed small. But yes, since I first met the Amish way back in 2004, in all likelihood they’ve doubled in number in that time, or close to it. For that matter, Joe Donnermeyer takes an interesting dive into the topic of Amish population doubling time in this paper. Estimates vary, but it’s generally within the 20-24 year range.

All this is preamble to the big question, “When will the Amish population cross the flashy figure of one million?” In a comment, reader Lance suggested a date about a quarter century from now, around 2050. That inspired me to explore the topic in a post this past year, which I’ve now made into a video you can view below (or read the post here).

In the video I do some guesstimating and then take a shot at when I think the Amish will likely cross the seven-figure mark. I also go through three assumptions that would need to hold to keep the Amish growing at about this same rate and for these guesstimates to prove accurate. In a nutshell, those assumptions are 1) no major external disruptions, 2) Amish birth rates stay high and 3) Amish youth continue joining the church at similar rates as they do now.

Those assumptions aside, if the Amish were a stock, I feel they’d be worth investing in. Even a “strong buy”. The fact they’ve proven themselves again and again adaptable – able to adjust their occupations, accept change in limited and thoughtful ways, and migrate to preserve their traditional lifestyles, all bode well for their long term prospects.

I was a bit surprised recently to realize that there are still people who assume the Amish are “dying out”, when all indications suggest the stark opposite. I hope this video and post help to correct that impression. Runtime: 7:11.

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    One Comment

    1. ABS

      One Million Amish

      Hi Erik, thank you for the calculations about Amish population growth. While I agree, we should consider another factor that might affect birth rate numbers – Genetics. I visit Amish districts (the last one for 6 months) and the number of special needs children in the communities continuously increases over the years. There are over 200 genetic conditions among Old Order Amish and some are quite common. While the Amish built special needs children’s centers for those kids and families beautifully care about their special children, some do not live long, others grow old but will never have children themselves.
      As the total number of individuals with a genetic condition increase there will be an increasing pressure for them to diversify the existing gene pool due to founder effects since they do not marry outside of the Amish. One recommendation is to adapt orphan English children into the Amish way of life early on, thereby introducing fresh gene pools. While this has always happened, it should be done more so now, or eventually this could seriously flatten the growth curve.
      Thanks for all your reports and for caring about our Amish community!