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amish economy

Amish Economy

The Amish have a unique lifestyle that strongly contrasts most of modern society. They live in isolation in their cultural havens, where they are free to practice their devout faith and keep their time-honored traditions alive. But how do they meet the financial needs of their families and communities?

Like most people, the Amish work and earn an income. Many own their businesses. But they handle their finances slightly differently from the everyday American. And this is largely due to their views on wealth. Want to know more? Read on to discover the secrets of the Amish economy. 

What this article covers:

How Do the Amish Earn Money?

How do the Amish make money? While some Amish people work outside their communities, typically in small businesses or accounting offices, most still work within their villages. 

In the Old Order communities, the following Amish work activities sustain the people living there and provide dependable income streams. 

amish traditional economy


The Amish have been farming, raising animals, and growing crops since they first arrived in North America in the 18th century. And those same Amish farming methods still provide most of their food sources, today, with little to no mechanization! 

Amish people’s sustainable and eco-friendly farming practices were ahead of their time. And these communities pass these benefits on when they sell their fresh produce and animal products. 


Carpentry is yet another traditional Amish custom that’s an important source of revenue. Amish men are renowned carpenters of great skill, once again using very few power tools to design and produce their fine crafts.  

They put these Amish woodworking techniques to use building their own houses, schools, and community buildings, including the furniture within. Many of them make furniture items to sell, too. 

is amish a traditional economy

Quilting & Other Sewing

Who hasn’t heard of, and most likely seen a traditional Amish quilt? Amish women have many talents they pass on to their daughters and granddaughters, which also boosts the Amish economy. When they aren’t sewing their clothes, or making soft furnishings for their homes, they’re producing quilts to sell.

Basket Weaving

Handwoven wicker baskets are one of their most popular exports. Like the authentic creations, you’ll find here at Amish Baskets. They’re both functional and beautiful. These items are used throughout the Amish community and are also sold to provide an ongoing income. 

Amish women are very industrious. They don’t just bake the bread, they even make the rattan bread baskets to store the loaves in! 

amish economic system

And as if that isn’t enough, they also create products like wicker storage baskets for shelves, charming vintage picnic baskets, and other delightful products. Don’t forget to treat yourself to one of their wonderful handmade baskets. They’re sure to become treasured family heirlooms. 

amish people  economy

Amish Views on Wealth

How do the Amish view wealth? They appreciate that they need to earn money to buy things that they can’t make themselves. They understand that good business and accounting principles will help them to grow their wealth. Yet they are not ultimately driven by this goal.

Amish people believe that their true reward is a spiritual one. It is this that drives them, and when things get tough, sustains them. 

They respect that money helps them live more comfortable lives, but understand the need for humility. Even the richest Amish person knows that money can easily become a source of boastfulness and pride, sins the Amish do their utmost to avoid.  

amish people traditional economy

Do the Amish Use Banks?

Do Amish use banks? Amish people use the banking system. Many of them operate businesses and have business accounts. Some take loans, but only when strictly necessary. For example, this is often how Amish buy land to build on.

But they don’t need credit cards for those luxury purchases so many people in this day and age are tempted by. The Amish avoid such ostentatious behavior and this saves them a lot of money.

Another glaring difference is the Amish attitude to financial responsibility. If they’ve taken a loan, they pay it back, on time. It’s unheard of for Amish people to default on loan repayments and face foreclosures. Because of this strong sense of responsibility, they’ve earned a good reputation with banks.

However, smaller conservative communities in rural areas may rely more on savings collected through the community. All Amish settlements have a strong community spirit, where every neighbor is a friend, and can always ask for help.

Do the Amish Pay Taxes?

One of the most often raised questions about the Amish economy relates to taxes. Do the Amish pay taxes? 

The fact is, the Amish pay income, property, and state taxes just like you do. However, there’s one notable exception - they’re exempt from social security taxes.

are amish people traditional economy

The Amish have been allowed this exemption as they don’t collect social security benefits. Like other forms of insurance, they view this as a worldly thing they don’t need. 

Similarly, you won’t find Amish people signing up for household contents insurance policies. They believe that if anything catastrophic were to happen, such as a bad storm or a fire, it was God’s Will. These Acts of God are accepted as part of his Divine Plan. They merely rebuild. 

It is this stoic attitude that has helped them survive and thrive even in hard times.


The attainment of wealth, and the stewardship of those funds, is a large part of the American dream. Yet not everyone follows this path. Some, like the Amish, view money as a means to an end, but not the ultimate goal. 

For the Amish, true wealth is measured more spiritually. The freedom to follow their faith, and live by their convictions. The spirit of fellowship runs deep through their communities. The wonder of nature and its resources that allow them to thrive. And the love of family. That dear reader, is true wealth.  

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