Amish population growing steadily

Filed under: In The News

Amish buggy crossing signThey may seem old-fashioned with their overalls, straw hats, and long dresses, but the technology-avoiding Amish are managing to succeed quite well living an antiquated lifestyle in a modern world. A recent study found the Amish population has grown 4% a year since 1992, blossoming from 125,000 then to 231,000 today.

Interestingly, the group hasn't built its numbers by recruiting outsiders, but instead by all but banning them. Amish are required to marry within their religion, and can be excommunicated if they marry someone from outside the community. Researchers attribute their population growth to large families -- many couples have 5 to 6 children -- and better health care, which means longer life spans and lower infant mortality.

Not knowing much about the Amish, I did a little digging. Though they don't allow themselves to hook up to electrical lines, they aren't completely cut off from the modern world. For instance, the Amish are not forbidden from seeking health care, and many Amish women have their children in modern hospitals.

Teenagers go through a period of rumspringa, or running around. It's kind of like the Amish version of rolling their eyes at adolescence -- a little misbehavior is expected. (Though according to this NPR report, rumspringa can often go far beyond "misbehavior.") When teens reach the ages of 18 to 21, they can choose to be baptized, or to leave the community for good. Though it may seem surprising, 85 to 90 percent of teens decide to stay, marry, and raise a family, contributing to this group's rising population.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.