Race and Ethnicity

Trading Places

Asian Americans are becoming more liberal as they enter the elite, while downwardly mobile Jews are moving to the right

By Eric Kaufmann

Kanye West’s paranoia notwithstanding, Jews are slowly fading from the American elite. A few decades hence, we may look back at the age of Jewish prominence, from roughly the 1920s to the 2000s, as a relic from a bygone golden age. While Jews and Asians share much in common, the differences between these groups are more striking. The status decline of the former contrasts sharply with the rise of the latter. Relatedly, the two groups are also on different political trajectories, with Jews likely to become more conservative while upwardly mobile Asian Americans move toward the Democrats, and become a larger share of the liberal establishment.

American Jews are bifurcating in two directions that will likely ensure that they become less prominent in American cultural life: toward assimilation and identity loss on the one hand, and toward ethnoreligious conservatism on the other. What is shrinking is the Goldilocks zone wherein Jews retained enough of their identity and educational ethos to succeed in the secular world without veering toward the Scylla of career-limiting ultra-Orthodoxy or the Charybdis of post-ethnic individualism.

Now it seems that Jews are moving toward both Scylla and Charbydis at the same time. On the one hand, Jews who are not Orthodox are embracing liberal secularism, intermarriage, symbolic ethnicity and post-ethnicity. Pew data shows that around half of non-Orthodox Jews have married non-Jews, rising to 72% among those tying the knot in the 2010s. Among Jews with one non-Jewish parent, 82% have married non-Jews compared to just 34% of those with two Jewish parents. While 91% of Orthodox Jews say it is very important that their grandchildren be Jewish, just 4% of nonreligious Jews agree.


Categories: Race and Ethnicity

1 reply »

  1. What could be more indicative of Jewish decline than rephrasing the Delphic maxim as “the Goldilocks zone”?

Leave a Reply