Admittedly, part of me wants to sarcastically say: “gee, the Amish population is growing? You don’t say!” Obviously when any population averages 6, 7, 8 or more children per family it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out their population is growing. But cheeky comments aside, there is interesting information beneath the headlines. I’ve been witnessing this Plain population growth first-hand over the years. There are so many places that once were far away from Amish country that are now home to horse and buggies and they aren’t all in far-flung places. Some examples: large swaths of southern Ohio. southern Indiana, western Wisconsin, and eastern Kentucky. Plus there are the offbeat places (offbeat as in you don’t usually think of Amish) like Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, and Mississippi. My prediction: Amish in Alaska by 2020. I do think it’ll happen and they’ll probably figure out a way to make it work. But here is an interesting article from the Columbus Dispatch that discusses the Amish population boom and its ramifications in more depth.
Oh, and someone will inevitably ask: What about Hawaii? Interesting question…I don’t think that’ll happen any time soon for many reasons. I think you’ll see Old Order Amish settle south of the Rio Grande before trying Hawaii. The Mennonites and Beachy Amish have successfully made a go south of the border, it is only a matter of time before the Old Order try again. So also by 2020: an established Old Order settlement in Mexico or Central America.
The one factor driving the population growth among the Amish isn’t just the birth rate, it is that the church really does have a high retention rate. Most people born into the Amish (close to 90 percent) remain Amish.