Israel Releases Report on Poverty Levels
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released a report last week, on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, detailing the country’s socio-economic situation.
According to the report, entitled "Poverty and Well-Being of the Population in Israel and the European Union", 29 percent of Israelis were at risk of poverty in 2008, compared with an average of 16 percent in EU member states.
In Israel, 38 percent of children and 33 percent of the elderly are at risk of impoverishment compared to European statistics of 19 percent for children and 20 percent for elderly. The CBS report also indicates that the average net income of the wealthiest twenty percent of Israel’s population was, in 2008, 7.5 times more than the average for the lowest twenty percent, whereas in Europe the differences between the richest and poorest quintiles of the population was 4.9 in 2008. Israel’s class gap is actually widening.
In May 2010, when Israeli was invited to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu stated: “The more we continue to free up Israel’s economy, and the more we continue to remove barriers to competition, the more Israel’s economy will thrive and the more the people of Israel will prosper.…”
It seems the opposite is happening.
Based on the 2008 statistics, after various welfare benefits nearly one-third of Israelis were living under the “poverty threshold,” which is defined as 60% of a country’s median income. In Europe, only Latvia (26%), Romania (23%), Bulgaria (21%), Greece, Spain and Lithuania (all 20%) came close to Israel’s high poverty rate. In January, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría criticized Israel for the high poverty rate, which is much higher than the OECD average of 11%.
One of the contributing factors to Israel’s higher poverty rates is the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, in the year 2000, the “Fair Representation Law was supposed to integrate more Arab Israelis into the public sector, they remain just 6% of a work force of about 57,000, about the same proportion as a decade ago.”
In addition, the country’s growing ultra-orthodox religious population, which receives financial benefits while remaining unemployed, is another chronically poor group. About 60% live below the poverty line, due in large part to low employment rates, reported the Post.
Also according to the CBS survey, in 2007 21% of Israelis reported that they had passed on food due to financial constraints (15% of Jews, 50% of Palestinians), a rate significantly higher than the figure in Europe, which stood at 11% that year, reported Ynet News.
In July, Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer warned that the high rates of Jewish ultra-orthodox unemployment were “unsustainable,’ and that efforts need to be taken to integrate them into the national work force as well.
Upon admission to the OECD, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “[o]ur goal is to become within the next decade one of the 15 highest per capita income countries in the world.”
“In the liberal economics worldview, nations should aspire to increased per capita income as reflected by increases in the national product,” wrote Israeli geographer Dr. Yosef Gotlieb.
“However, these measures do not show how growth is distributed within the society; they reveal little about a society’s internal socioeconomic development,” according to Gotlieb. “While Israel has had robust economic growth over the past two decades, yesterday’s CBS report shows that it is the “elephants” of the society that have benefitted and not the ‘sparrow".
Source of this article: http://www.alternativenews.org
Url of this article: http://www.internationalnews.fr/article-poverty-keeps-groing-in-israel-report--61830702.html