Amish Population Profile 2015

Population. The estimated population of the Amish of North America (adults and children) as of May 2015 is 300,000. This is an increase of approximately 9,900 since 2014, a growth rate of 3.4 percent. For a comparison of 2015 to 2010 population data, see Population Change 2010-2015 tables. (For earlier population data and growth rates, see Population Change 1992-2013 tables and Population Change 2008-2013 tables.)

States. Amish communities are located in 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In 2015 the Amish established settlements in one new state (Vermont) and one new province (New Brunswick).

Settlements. During the past year, 21 new settlements (geographical communities) have been established (480 settlements existed in 2014; 501 settlements in 2015). New settlements are typically small, with only a few families in a single church district (congregation). Fifty-two percent of all Amish settlements contain only 1 church district. Older settlements such as those in the Holmes County, Ohio, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, areas contain more than 200 districts. Larger settlements may have several different subgroups whereas smaller ones typically have just one subgroup.

Districts. The number of districts (congregations), each of which generally consists of 20 to 40 families, grew from 2,119 in 2014 to 2,193 in 2015, an increase of 74 in the 12-month period. Approximately 12 percent of all districts are the only district in their settlement.

Big Three States. Historically, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana have claimed about two-thirds of the North American Amish population. That trend continues this year: 63 percent of the total Amish population lives in those three states.

Reasons for Population Growth. The primary forces driving the growth are sizeable nuclear families (five or more children on average) and an average retention rate (Amish children who join the church as young adults) of 85 percent or more. A few outsiders occasionally join the Amish, but the bulk of the growth is from within the Amish community.

Reasons for New Settlement Growth. The Amish establish new settlements in states that already have Amish communities as well as in “new” states for a variety of reasons that may include: (1) fertile farmland at reasonable prices, (2) non-farm work in specialized occupations, (3) rural isolation that supports their traditional, family-based lifestyle, (4) social and physical environments (climate, governments, services, economy) conducive to their way of life, (5) proximity to family or other similar Amish church groups, and (6) as a way to resolve church or leadership conflicts.

Notes: Settlement and district statistics were updated as of May 2015, with the exception of Vermont, where a new settlement began in June. Population figures (which include adults and children) are estimates calculated by using state-sensitive averages of the estimated number of people per church district. The number of people per district varies by region, community, affiliation, and age of the district. Thus the actual number of people in a specific district or state may be higher or lower than the estimates. The national composite average per district is 137. The data includes all Amish groups (Old Order and New Order) that use horse-and-buggy transportation, but excludes car-driving groups such as the Beachy Amish and Amish Mennonites.

Sources: Raber’s Almanac, reports by correspondents in Amish publications, the annual migration report in the Diary, state and regional settlement directories, regional newsletters, and informants in various settlements.

To cite this page: “Amish Population Profile 2015.” Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College.

About the site

Amish Studies is an academic website developed by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College to provide reliable information on Amish life and culture.

Designed to assist scholars, students and the general public, the site was developed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of a collaborative research grant on Amish diversity and identity in the 20th century. The research team included principal investigator Donald B. Kraybill of Elizabethtown College (Pa.) and two co-investigators, Steven M. Nolt of Goshen College (Ind.) and Karen M. Johnson-Weiner of SUNY Potsdam (New York).

The Amish population statistics are updated annually in July. Other information will be revised and added on a periodic basis.

Recent books

The Amish book cover

Authors: Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013)

Renegade Amish book cover

Author: Donald Kraybill (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014)