There are 532 Amish settlements spread across 31 states, the Canadian provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the South American countries of Argentina and Bolivia. These settlements include approximately 2,365 church districts (congregations). Approximately 61 percent of the districts (and 63 percent of the population) are in three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. See Amish Population 2017 for details.
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 2,365 in 2017.
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).