While community leaders, policymakers and researchers are often keen to undertake research initiatives that speak directly to the policy questions they wish to address, there are certain fundamental data that need to be gathered and analysed to help inform and provide context to all such efforts. In the wider, national context, these types of data are typically gathered by national statistical agencies, and they include regular measures of issues such as population size, fertility, mortality, inflation, employment, health and crime. There are equivalent foundational and contextual data that similarly need to be gathered by Jewish communities, and it is JPR that provides these data for the entire UK community through our community statistics programme.
At its core, the programme includes the regular gathering and analysis of data on Jewish births and deaths, marriages and divorces, synagogue membership and Jewish school enrolment. Beyond their general value in helping to monitor community trends, these types of data play a critical role in enabling community leaders and policymakers to plan for the community’s future. They help answer key policy questions, such as whether to build a new Jewish school in a particular area, how best to cater for a projected change in demand for elderly care, or whether to invest in a major infrastructural building project in a given neighbourhood. Having accurate data helps community leaders to make wise policy decisions, and has the potential to save the community millions of pounds in ill-considered initiatives.
Our community statistics work in the UK also includes detailed analysis of UK Census data, which is a key specialisation of the JPR research team. Due to its inclusion of a question about religion since 2001, the Census provides extraordinarily valuable data that allows us to examine key features of the Jewish population of the UK in meticulous detail, including its size, age composition, geography, economic circumstances, education and health. We use these data regularly to provide a wide range of community organisations with data insights to support their strategic planning processes, to educate community leaders and professionals on Jewish population trends, and to publish general interest reports that can be used as key references for community development purposes.
Until quite recently, much of this work was managed and financed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, but as its priorities have shifted, this work is now conducted exclusively by JPR and funded solely from charitable donations.