Study Finds New Amish Community Forms in U.S. Every 3.5 Weeks

Posted on July 28, 2012

Researchers say Amish are growing more rapidly than most other religions in the United States. A new census of the Amish population in the United States estimates that a new Amish community is founded, on average, about every 3.5 weeks. The study shows that more than 60% of all existing Amish settlements have been founded since 1990. The census count was restricted to Amish among the "Old Orders," those who maintain a horse-and-buggy lifestyle and avoid or limit their use of most modern technologies.

The census counts almost 251,000 Amish in the United States and Ontario, Canada, dispersed among 456 settlements. If the growth of the Amish population continues at its current rate, the Ohio State University researchers predict that the census could exceed 1 million Amish and 1,000 settlements shortly after 2050. Unlike other religious groups, however, the growth is not driven by converts joining the faith, but instead can be attributed to large families and high rates of baptism.

Joseph Donnermeyer, professor of rural sociology in Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources, who led the census project, says, "The Amish are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in North America. They're doubling their population about every 21 to 22 years, primarily because they produce large families and the vast majority of daughters and sons remain in the community as adults baptized into the faith, starting their own families and sustaining their religious beliefs and practices."

Here are some highlights of the study: