Population. The estimated population of the Amish of North America (adults and children) as of June 2017 is 318,390. This is an increase of approximately 10,360 since 2016, a growth rate of 3.36 percent. For a comparison of 2017 to 2012 population data, see Population Change 2012-2017 tables. For a comparison of 2017 to 1992 population data, see Population Change 1992-2017 tables.
States and Provinces. North American Amish communities are located in 31 states and three Canadian provinces. More than 60 percent of the population lives in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
South America. Horse-and-buggy-driving New Order Amish from Ohio established two settlements in South America in the fall of 2015—one in Bolivia and one in Argentina. Each settlement has one small congregation. Most of the members come from Old Colony Mennonite background.
Settlements. During the past year, 21 new settlements (geographical communities) were established and 3 existing settlements dissolved, a net gain of 18 settlements. New settlements are typically small, with only a few families in a single church district (congregation).
Forty-nine percent of all Amish settlements contain only a single church district. Older settlements such as those in the Holmes County, Ohio, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, areas contain more than 200 districts. (See Twelve Largest Settlements.) Larger settlements may have several different subgroups whereas smaller ones typically have just one subgroup.
Districts. In North America, the number of districts (congregations), each of which generally consists of 20 to 40 families, grew from 2,259 in 2016 to 2,363 in 2017, an increase of 104 in the twelve-month period.
Population Trends, 2012-2017. The Amish population grew by an estimated 44,765 since 2012, increasing from approximately 273,710 in 2012 to 318,475 in 2017, an increase of 16 percent. See Population Change 2012-2017 tables for details. The Amish population doubles about every 20 years. Since 2012, the number of districts has grown from 2,007 to 2,365, an increase of 358 districts. During the same period, 69 new settlements were established, including settlements in one new state (Vermont), two new provinces (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), and Argentina and Bolivia.
Reasons for Population Growth. The primary forces driving the growth are sizable 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 have joined the Amish, but the growth is almost entirely from within the Amish community.
Reasons for Creating New Settlements. The Amish establish new settlements for a variety of reasons, including a desire for: (1) fertile farmland at reasonable prices, (2) nonfarm 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) a way to resolve church or leadership conflicts.
Note: Population estimates for 2017 were calculated using a variety of sources including Raber’s New American Almanac, reports by correspondents in Die Botschaft, The Budget, and The Diary, settlement directories, regional newsletters, and settlement informants. The data includes all Amish groups that use horse-and-buggy transportation, but excludes car-driving groups such as the Beachy Amish and Amish Mennonites.
To cite this page: “Amish Population Profile, 2017.” Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College. http://groups.etown.edu/amishstudies/statistics/amish-population-profile-2017.