Why the Amish Population Doubles Every 21 Years

The Amish — known for their horse-and-buggy way of life — may seem like they would be diminishing because of the rushing changes in technology and culture, but they're actually growing faster than ever. There are nearly 350,000 Amish people in America, more than triple the estimated population in 1989 of about 100,000. Researchers estimate that the population will double again to over half a million within about 21 years. Much of the growth has to do with the fact that more Amish children are staying with the religion and starting their own high-fertility families. The Amish live in small groups of 20-30 families, known as “settlements.” In 1990, there were 179 settlements in the U.S. By 2021, the number of settlements has grown to 298. The Amish have traditionally lived in places like Lancaster County, Penn., and Holmes County, Ohio. Now, they’re spreading to other parts of the country, from New York to Missouri and Wyoming. Montana now has four settlements, while Nebraska has three. This geographic scattering is due, in part, to changing agricultural economics. As farmers leave their farms or sell them off, sparsely populated rural areas become prime real estate for the Amish. As the older communities get bigger because of this population boom, there has been greater and greater emphasis on finding new places to start new settlements, and that has pushed the Amish into somewhat expected locations. In fact, there’s one settlement in rural Wyoming that’s about an hour-and-a-half buggy ride to the nearest town. We can expect to see the Amish settling in even more unusual locations as time goes on.