The Amish—known for their horse-and-buggy way of life—may seem like they would be overwhelmed by the rushing changes in technology and culture.
But according to a new census, the Amish are growing faster than ever. There are nearly 251,000 Amish people in America and Canada, according to Ohio State University researchers. That’s more than double the estimated population in 1989 of about 100,000. Researchers estimate the population will double again to half a million within about 21 years.
Much of the growth has to do with the fact that more Amish children are staying with the religion and starting their own high-fertility families. “Some people would claim 90 percent of daughters and sons get baptized Amish and start families,” says lead researcher Joseph Donnermeyer, a professor of rural sociology at OSU. He says this number has been increasing steadily since WWII.
The Amish live in small groups of 20 or 30 families known as settlements, and Donnermeyer’s team has shown the number of these settlements to be growing quickly. In 1990, there were 179 settlements in the U.S. By 2012, Donnermeyer and his colleagues counted 456, including a handful in Canada.
The article goes on to explain how it isn’t just their birthrates and family sizes, but also the effects of the impact of technology on modern farming, that indirectly results in explosive growth of new Amish settlements.
Maybe the meek and low-tech will inherit the Earth, after all.