There are 501 Amish settlements spread across 31 states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick. These settlements include approximately 2,200 church districts (congregations). Nearly two-thirds of the districts are found in three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. (See Population By State/Province for the number of settlements, church districts, and people in each state or province.)
Observers might expect a traditional group that rejects higher education, car ownership, and the Internet to be on the wane. On the contrary, the Amish population is growing constantly. The 200 church districts in 1951 have grown to approximately 2,200 in 2015.
Large families and strong retention rates propel the growth. On average, families have about five children, but it’s not unusual for them to have ten or more. Typically, 85 percent or more of the youth join the church. (A few members do leave after baptism; defection rates vary from community to community.) Although the Amish do not seek converts, outsiders may join if they comply with Amish guidelines. Several dozen outsiders have done so.
- See chapter 9, “Population Patterns,” in Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt, The Amish (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
- Thomas J. Meyers, “The Old Order Amish: To Remain in the Faith or to Leave,” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 68, no. 3 (July 1994).
- Lawrence P. Greksa and Jill E. Korbin, “Key Decisions in the Lives of the Old Order Amish: Joining the Church and Migrating to Another Settlement,” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 76, no. 4 (July 2002).