A MyHeritage DNA study has revealed that Hungary’s population has the highest percentage of Jewish ancestry outside of Israel. In total, 100 countries were included in the research.
At least 7.6% of the 4,981 people living in Hungary who took the DNA test were found to have at least 25% or more Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity.
“This is equivalent to having at least one grandparent who is fully Ashkenazi Jewish,” MyHeritage said. “This is a significantly higher percentage than the 3.5% observed in DNA test-takers living in the USA and 3% in Canada.”
Based on UN estimates, Hungary’s population is 9.7 million.
“MyHeritage discovered that 4.2% of DNA test-takers in Hungary have 50% or more Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity,” it added.
The online genealogy platform worked on this research together with Dr. Daniel Staetsky, director of the European Jewish Demography Unit at the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
Official statistics set the number of Jews in Hungary at only 10,965, according to the 2013 national census.
According to Hebrew University of Jerusalem demographer Prof. Sergio Della Pergola, 47,500 people in Hungary, or 0.49% of the population, identify as Jewish.
But sociologist Andras Kovacs of the Central European University in Budapest estimated “a range of 73,000 to 138,000 people with at least one Jewish parent” in Hungary.
“This outcome lends credibility to both traditional demographic methods and to the novel estimates based on genetic testing,” Staetsky said.
For many years, demographers believed that the countries outside of Israel with the highest proportion of Jewish inhabitants are, in order, the USA, Canada, France, Hungary and Uruguay.
However, this study has challenged these assumptions, discovering that after Israel, the top countries in terms of significant Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity were Hungary and Russia, followed by Argentina, South Africa, Ukraine and then the US. This is based on countries with a sufficiently large DNA sample sizes.