16

As per StormFront (warning: neo-nazi website):

While only 3% of the population, the Jews control over 25% of the nation's wealth and this percentage rises every year.

  • Is only 3% of the population Jewish?
  • Do the Jewish control over 25% of the nation's wealth?
  • Is this percentage rising?
  • 1
    I've removed the wikipedia link from the question. Defining Jews is certainly neither the burden of the OP, nor the prerogative of the OP, as the claim does not specify what is meant by Jews... it's up to the answerer to figure that out. – Sklivvz Jan 1 '14 at 22:44
  • 1
    Actually, the original source of the claim makes it clear what they mean: Jews are the set of people that self-identify as such: "Whether they are Orthodox religious, atheists, capitalists or communists - they still claim to be Jews" – Sklivvz Jan 1 '14 at 22:46
  • @user16934, knowing the site, and having seen many such questions: that kind of brainstorming pretty much guarantees that no one will be able or wanting to answer you ;-) – Sklivvz Jan 1 '14 at 22:57
  • Alright, I've removed it to not discourage anyone from answering. – user16934 Jan 1 '14 at 22:58
  • I am genuinely surprised that there would be any debate as to who is a Jew. The category of people (and their descendants) known as Jews is clear cut in the bible; not really something one could wake up and say "I now identify as Jewish". – Will Jun 27 at 0:59
23

The short answer: Yes, self-identified Jews have, on average, higher household incomes in the USA than other religious groups, with Hindus only slightly behind. Drawing strong conclusions from this correlation is dangerous.

(Watch out! This answer includes a tiny bit of misdirection. The question was about wealth, but the answer is about income because it was the best I could find. Wealth and income aren't exactly the same, but they are pretty tightly related, so I think the answer should still be acceptable.)

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life produce the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.

They have a chart showing the results of income distributions.

Income Distribution of Religious Traditions

(This chart has been turned into an infographic which I find doesn't help very much, but you may prefer it.)

From this chart, you can see that Jews have the highest proportion of household income of greater than $US100,000. Similarly, they are the second-least-likely to have household incomes of less than $US30,000, after Hindus.


Anti-Semitic sites, such as Stormfront, use data like this to conclude that there is a Jewish conspiracy. This is not a safe assumption, due to a large number of potential confounding factors (ignoring the innate difficulty/impossibility of having a conspiracy of that size.)

  • The relatively low socioeconomic position of black Americans is likely a large confounding factor. Black Americans account for only roughly 3% of American Jewish population compared to roughly 13% of the general population (sources: 1, [2], [3]). Note the lowest incomes are associated with "Historically Black Churches".

  • Income is correlated with age. If American Jews are demographically aged closer to their peak earning potential than the general population, it may sway the results.

  • Immigration status is likely to affect income. If American Jews are now more likely to be settled in the country longer ago than American Muslims, on average, it may make their relative income higher.

  • Household size affects household income. If American Jews are more likely to live in households with a larger number of income earners, it may increase their apparent income without actually increasing the average individual income. If the women are more likely to participate in the workforce, that would also increase the figures.

  • Culture is likely to affect income. If American Jews are more likely to be focussed on academic achievement than other cultures, it may increase their income.

My goal here is not to prove that any of these potential confounding factors are true or relevant, just to give context to the bare facts before they are used to make dangerous conclusions about conspiracies.

  • 6
    It should be noted that there is a problem with the definition of "Jew", the Pew Forum categorises by religion, while some people will consider themselves Jews, but will not affiliate themselves with any religion, people like Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart. This happens because Judaism has a double meaning as a nationality and a as religion, that are related but are not identical. I think that StormFront would include under their definition of Jews both groups, people who affiliate themselves with the Jewish nationality and/or the Jewish religion(s). And I'm not sure if Pew did the same. – SIMEL Jan 2 '14 at 9:20
  • 6
    Note that a large proportion of the Jewish population lives in the large metropolitan areas, where mean income is higher than the national average. I believe that when controlled for education level and zip code, the numbers would look very different. – Ofir Jan 2 '14 at 9:20
  • @Ilya: That's important, because fewer ethnic Jews people are identifying as having religion. One might imagine this is more common amongst young people, leading to artificially-inflated incomes amongst the remaining self-identified Jews-as-religion. I did try to find out how Pew asked the question, but got bored when asked to read confidentiality agreements. – Oddthinking Jan 2 '14 at 9:39
  • 4
    Actually, I would posit that wealth and income are very misleading to relate, in case of 2000 USA, because a lot of wealth comes from Old Money (typically WASPs or Old South money none of which is Jewish), whereas a lot of income comes from computer programming and finance; where young, relatively poor and frequently 1-2 generation Jewish immigrants are overrepresented. – user21713 Aug 17 '14 at 21:04
  • 1
    There is another confounding aspect, and this comes from history. Historically, Jews in Europe have been prohibited to do many traditional professions, to own land, etc. This forced them to move to the cities, where they became merchants, bankers, etc., and richer on average than the general population. Not sure how the demographics of Jewish immigrants to North America were, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was quite some old money. – gerrit Mar 20 '15 at 22:12
9

A partial answer in addition to Oddthinking's.

Is only 3% of the population Jewish?

No.

Jews are about 2% of the U.S. population, fewer than many people guess.

A Statistical Portrait of American Jews into the 21stCentury

  • "could define Jewish ... to include all Americans who have at least one Jewish parent or were raised Jewish, ... In that case, the survey suggests the total adult Jewish population ...would make up about 3.3% of American adults... If one were to adopt an even broader definition of Jewish identity and include all Americans who say they consider themselves Jewish for any reason ....the survey indicates the adult Jewish population would be roughly 3.8% of the overall adult population, or about 9.0 million people." pewforum.org/2013/10/01/chapter-1-population-estimates – DavePhD Dec 19 '16 at 20:26
8

This article claims/shows that 25% to 35% of US billionaires are Jewish.

Here’s my count of Forbes Israel‘s list, with Jewish billionaires as a fraction of the country’s total number of billionaires:

US 105/442 = 24%

[...] Overall, n/a states that 140 of the Forbes 400 rankings of richest Americans, or 35 percent, are Jewish.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .