Population Trends 1992-2013

21-Year Highlights

Population. In the 21-year period from 1992 to 2013, the Amish of North America (adults and children) more than doubled in population, increasing from an estimated 128,000 in 1992 to 282,000 in 2013, a net gain of 154,000 and an overall growth rate of 120 percent. See Population Change 1992-2013 tables for details.

States. Amish communities are located in 30 states and the Canadian province of Ontario. Over the 21-year period, nine states (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming) welcomed new Amish residents. During the same period, a small settlement in Georgia disbanded, leaving a net gain of eight new states.

Settlements. In the 21-year period, the Amish show a net gain of 242 settlements (geographical communities), growing from 227 settlements in 1992 to 469 settlements in 2013—an increase of 107 percent. Approximately 11 new settlements were established per year during these 21 years. New settlements are typically small, with only a few families in a single congregation (church district). Older settlements such as those in the Holmes County, Ohio, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area include over 195 districts. Larger settlements may have several different subgroups whereas smaller ones typically have just one subgroup.

Districts. The number of local districts (congregations), each of which consists of 20 to 40 families, grew from 930 to 2,056, an increase of 1,126 (121 percent) in the 21-year period.

Big Three States. Historically, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana have claimed about two-thirds of the North American Amish population. Their share of the Amish pie declined since 1992, from 71 percent to 64 percent in 2013.

High Growth States. Eight states enjoyed increases of more than 150 percent in their Amish population during the 21-year period: Virginia (600 percent), New York (293 percent), Minnesota (267 percent), Kentucky (257 percent), Missouri (187 percent), Tennessee (183 percent), Kansas (160 percent), and Michigan (151 percent). These state and three others had increases above the state/provincial average of 120 percent.

Slow Growth States. Several states had sluggish growth, significantly below the overall average of 120 percent: Oklahoma (50 percent), Delaware (25 percent), Florida (no growth) and North Carolina (no growth).

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 their own 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 sometimes to (6) resolve church or leadership conflicts.

Notes: Settlement and district statistics were updated in June 2013. Population figures (adults and children) are estimates calculated by using state-sensitive averages of the estimated number of people per church district. The population 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 in the tables. 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: For the 1992 data, see David Luthy, “Amish Migration Patterns: 1972-1992,” in Donald B. Kraybill and Marc A. Olson, The Amish Struggle with Modernity (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994), 243-59. Sources for the 2013 data include Raber’s Almanac, reports of correspondents in Amish publications, the annual migration report in The Diary, state and regional settlement directories, and informants in settlements.

To cite this page: “Amish Population Trends 1992-2013, 21-Year Highlights.” Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College. http://groups.etown.edu/amishstudies/statistics/population-trends-1992-2013.

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.

The Amish population statistics are updated annually in the summer. Other information is updated periodically.

For more in-depth discussion about the Amish:
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Authors: Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013; paperback, 2018)

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