To most people, the idea that the Amish would ever comprise the majority of the American population probably sounds ludicrous. If, however, the U.S. Amish population continues to grow at its current rate for the next two centuries, this Anabaptist sect, currently numbering roughly 350,000, will surpass 300 million individuals. Even if the total United States population grows to 600 million during the same time frame, the Amish would be at the precipice of a demographic majority in one of the world’s largest nations.
The Amish are a religious and cultural sect that emerged from Germanic portions of Switzerland in the 17th century. Facing persecution, the sect relocated to what is now the United States of America in the 1700s. While each affiliation and settlement has a different level of integration with the broader community, the Amish are best known for their degree of separation from the outside world, as well as for avoiding technologies that undermine the social fabric of their community. In many Amish settlements, these technologies extend to modern conveniences such as electricity and automobiles.
Why do many serious demographers believe the United States will be majority-Amish in two hundred years? In short, the Amish are among the world’s fastest growing populations. If the Amish were a country, it would be ranked as having the second-highest fertility rate in the world, second only to Niger. And, unlike most fast-growing populations, the Amish reside in a developed country with a low infant mortality rate, facilitating even more rapid growth (though it should be noted that many Amish avoid interactions with the medical system). Additionally, Amish have a high retention rate of roughly 90 percent, a rate showing no sign of decreasing.
As a result, the Amish population has consistently doubled every twenty years for the past century, leading to growth from a mere 5,000 in 1920 to 361,635 as of 2021. Given the mathematics of exponential growth, this consistent population growth, even from a low initial base, yields extraordinary results if extrapolated over the long term. If the Amish population continues to double each twenty years, it will reach roughly 5.6 million in 2100. This growth, though astounding, would probably be unnoticeable to most Americans. In the 2100s, however, it would begin to yield conspicuous results. A population of 5.6 million Amish would, if doubled each twenty years, reach 22.4 million in 2140, 44.8 million in 2160, 89.6 million in 2180, and 179.2 million in 2200. By 2220, it would amount to 358.4 million individuals.
A similar trajectory would likewise occur in Canada, which currently hosts 5,000 Amish (Canada is also home to many other fast-growing Anabaptist groups, such as Mennonites and Hutterites). This number would, if following historical patterns, reach 80,000 in 2100. By 2200, this population would be over 2.5 million, and the majority of Canada’s population would become Amish in succeeding decades, reaching over 80 million by 2300. Amish settlements have even begun to emerge in Latin America even as the region’s fertility rate has plummeted, suggesting that Amish and Mennonites will become a larger component of the region’s population in the future.
This projected growth, of course, is not inevitable. Several variables, such as lower retention or fertility rates, could dramatically alter the Amish population trajectory. The nature of exponential growth is such that even slight deviations from current population growth rates will have dramatic ramifications in future centuries.
However, the notion of a future Amish majority is a fun to consider, and, if the status quo carries forward, will occur. The produce and tourism would be fantastic.
(August 12, 2021). The Amish Population in 2021. Amish America. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://amishamerica.com/2021-amish-population/#maincontent.
Gardey, E. (July 31, 2019). Amish Projected To Overtake The Current US Population In 215 Years, If Growth Rates Continue. Daily Caller. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://dailycaller.com/2019/07/31/amish-population-america-growth-rates/.
Kaufmann, E. (2011). Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-first Century. Profile Books.
Stone, L. (February 8, 2018). How Long Until We’re All Amish? Medium. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://medium.com/migration-issues/how-long-until-were-all-amish-268e3d0de87.