Western populations collectively responded to history’s recent changes by reducing births to record-low levels. However, a minority of Westerners, largely ethnic sectarian religions, have maintained pre-transition fertility levels despite exposure to contexts motivating fertility decline. 

How have these populations—conspicuous among them being the Amish—maintained high birth rates? What factors explain internal variations? And how do these same factors also shape consequent community expansion and migration?

The Amish and plain Anabaptists offer an incredible present-day opportunity to explore theories addressing why birth rates change and how space is manipulated to accommodate this growth. Conceptualizing Amish population dynamics is important for understanding how, where, and why the Amish population is growing and, thus, what new social-infrastructural demands are coming to rural North America.

Population Structure—Fertility, Mortality, Composition

Amish demography analyses are moving into a new generation with the population-wide Cross-sectional Amish Population and Environment Database-2010s (CAPED-2010s), the first-ever comprehensive Amish population dataset. Studies employing the CAPED-2010s are bulldozing old boundaries and generating (1) new comprehensive measures of the Amish population, and (2) state-of-the-art tests of predictors of demographic outcomes.

The Population Structure of the Amish: The Demographic Architecture of One of America’s Fastest Growing Groups

Presented at the Population Association of America annual conference. New Orleans, LA.
Anderson, Cory, and Stephanie Thiehoff. 2023.

Links & Details

Persistently High Fertility in a Low Fertility Context: How Do America’s Amish Heterogeneously Respond to Fertility-Reducing Structural Incentives?

Presented at the Population Association of America annual conference. Atlanta, GA.
Anderson, Cory, George Hayward, Shuai Zhou, Guangqing Chi, and Mary Shenk. 2022.

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Collecting and Analyzing Micro Data about the Amish, a Rapidly Growing Ethno-Religious North American Population.

Population Association of America annual conference. Virtual.
Anderson, Cory, and Samson Wasao. 2021.

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The Persistently High Fertility of a North American Population: A 25-Year Restudy of Parity among the Ohio Amish

Population Studies
Wasao, Samson, Cory Anderson, and Christian Mpody. 2021.

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Reviving the Demographic Study of the Amish.

Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies
Colyer, Cory, Cory Anderson, Joseph Donnermeyer, Rachel Stein, and Samson Wasao. 2017.

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Birth Rates, Contraception Usage, and Demographic Data Relating to the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Churches

Working paper, updated in 2010.
Original version:
Harrisonburg, VA: James Madison University.
Anderson, Cory. 2005.

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Project: Migration and Community

Plain Anabaptist households migrate together, triggering quick-forming ethnic-religious enclaves. Given that plain Anabaptists primarily migrate to rural areas, the infrastructural and cultural impact is sizeable and immediate.

What motivates this migration, how does it happen, and what does the landscape of plain Anabaptists look like? To answer these questions, I maintain extensive data about over 100 plain Anabaptist denominations consisting of over 3,000 churches and communities. An aggregate version of these data are available through the decennial U.S. Religion Census.

More than just descriptive studies, I am interested in theorizing how religion motivates migration and correlating plain Anabaptists’ religious culture with place attributes—social, economic, political, and environmental.

County-level Contributions to the U.S. Religion Census

2020 U.S. Religion Census. Kansas City,
MO: Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

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Religiously Motivated Migration

The Sociological Quarterly
Anderson, Cory. 2016.

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A Mid-Decade Update on Amish Settlement Growth

Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies
Donnermeyer, Joseph, and Cory Anderson. 2015.

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What Kinds of Places Attract and Sustain Amish Populations?

Rural Sociology
Anderson, Cory, and Loren Kenda. 2015.

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The Growth of Amish and Plain Anabaptists in Kentucky

Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies
Donnermeyer, Joseph, and Cory Anderson. 2014.

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The Amish Population: County Estimates and Settlement Patterns

Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies
Donnermeyer, Joseph, Cory Anderson, and Elizabeth Cooksey. 2013.

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Where Are the Plain Anabaptists?

Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies
Anderson, Cory, and Joseph Donnermeyer. 2013.

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Other Projects

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