The Jewish Community Study of San Diego County, 2003

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of San Diego County, United Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Principal Investigator(s): Jacob B. Ukeles, Ron Miller

Population Estimates: An estimated 89,000 Jewish persons resided in 46,000 Jewish households in San Diego County in 2003. There were also 29,000 non-Jews living in these Jewish households, for a total of 118,000 people living in Jewish San Diego County households.
Key Findings:
  • The Jewish population has substantially increased since the last study on San Diego in 1979, when it was estimated that there were 30,000 people in San Diego County living in slightly over 8,000 Jewish households. In 2003, 118,000 people resided in San Diego County Jewish households.
  • Jewish households represent 4.5% of the 1,020,000 households in San Diego County. The number of Jewish persons represents 3.1% of the total San Diego County population.

  • In 2003, the Jewish community in San Diego County was the 13th largest Jewish community in the United States.

  • The San Diego Jewish community is highly dispersed throughout the county. This geographic dispersion presents significant challenges to the San Diego Jewish community both in terms of providing needed services and in engaging people in Jewish life.

  • The largest number of Jewish households (12,300) live in North County Coastal (from Camel Valley through Oceanside). The second largest number of Jewish households (9,400) live in Greater East San Diego.

  • In terms of denominational affiliation, 40% of Jewish respondents are Reform Jews, 22% are Conservative, 3% are Reconstructionist, 3% are Orthodox, 3% identify with the Secular Humanist movement, 17% are non-denominational, and 14% were classified as "no religion - views self as secular Jew." Younger Jews are more likely to be non-denominational or to identify themselves as secular.

  • Jewish respondents have a strong sense of Jewish identity; 64% said that being Jewish is very important to them; 69% stated that Israel is very important to them.

  • Being a part of the San Diego Jewish community is less important for Jewish respondents. Only 31% consider it very important to be part of the Jewish community while 35% consider it to be not important.

  • 29% of Jewish households reported that they are members of a synagogue or temple. The percentage is lower than most western U.S. communities.

  • Intermarriage rates are relatively high; in San Diego County, 44% of currently married couples are intermarried. Another 11% are conversionary marriages, in which the partner who was not born or raised Jewish now considers themselves to be Jewish. Recent marriages are more likely to be intermarriages.

  • Of the 23,700 children in Jewish households, only 9,400 live in inmarried and conversionary inmarried Jewish households. 10,000 live in intermarried households, and 4,300 live in other situations, mostly single-parent households.

  • Among intermarried households, only 21% of the children are being brought up exclusively Jewish, and 29% are being brought up Jewish and something else.

  • Of all children being raised Jewish (including Jewish and something else), 34% currently are engaged in formal Jewish education. About 76% of Jewish-raised children are receiving or have received some formal Jewish education.

  • Many members of the Jewish community in San Diego are affluent, with 31% of Jewish households reporting an annual income of over $100,000, and 17% reporting an income over $150,000. However, 24% of households have an income under $35,000, and 10% of households face financial hardship.

  • Jewish households in San Diego tend to be charitable: 85% of Jewish households report some charitable contribution during the year preceding the study. Of these, 79% report having made a contribution to a non-Jewish charity, 52% report having made a contribution to a Jewish charity (including the UJF), and 28% report having contributed to the UJF of San Diego County.
Sample: Adult Jewish Households in San Diego County. Six sub-areas were designated for the study: South County, Central San Diego, La Jolla/Mid-Coastal San Diego, Greater East San Diego, North County Coastal and North County Inland.

Sample Size: 1,080 telephone interviews completed between October 2, 2002-March 6, 2003

Sample Notes: Being Jewish was defined as either self-identifying as a Jew or being a child who is being raised as a Jew. A Jewish household was defined as any household with a Jewish adult.

The sampling methodology was designed to include random samples of Jewish households “known” to the United Jewish Federation, as well as random samples of households “unknown” to the United Jewish Federation. Two independent, complementary sampling frames were used: (1) a frame based on Federation List phone numbers, and (2) a residual RDD sampling frame generated through standard GENESYS random digit dialing (RDD) techniques, after the List numbers were electronically unduplicated from the initial random sampling frame.

Sampling, estimation, and weighting details summarized in the Main Report.

The response rate (the percent of working phone numbers from which information on respondent religious identity was collected during the “screening phase” of the study) was 36%, an acceptable response rate for contemporary research studies. As a comparison, a comparable screening phase response rate for the 2001 National Jewish Population Study was 28%.

Once a Jewish household was identified through the screening process (1,268 Jewish households), a cooperation rate of 85% was obtained — 1,080 of the identified Jewish households provided usable interviews.

The data file is weighted to project to the total number of estimated Jewish households (precise number: 45,927 using "HHWeight," the number of Jewish persons in the household (precise 88,852 using "JewWeigh," and the total number of people living in these households (118,266 precise using "PopWeigh.")

Study Notes: Interviewing was conducted by ICR, International Communications Research of Media, PA. Sample design, estimation and weighting were provided by MSG-GENESYS Sampling Systems of Fort Washington, PA.


Survey Reports

» Main Report

» Summary Report

Slide Sets

» A Tale of Two "Jewish?" Cities: San Diego and Phoenix

» Overview Slide Set

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» Screener Questionnaire

» Questionnaire

Data Files and Data Definitions

» Zipped SPSS Data File

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