Author Archives: Tova Cohen

Avi Weiss

Prof. Weiss is the President of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. He has presided as a member of the senior faculty of Bar-Ilan University since 1988 and served as Chair of the Economics Department between 2005 and 2008. His area of expertise is Applied Economics and his research focuses on industrial organization, antitrust, labor economics, law and economics, and behavioral and experimental economics. Weiss is the editor of The Economic Quarterly – the journal of the Israel Economic Association – and is an associate editor of Economic Inquiry.

 

In the public domain, Prof. Weiss served as Chief Economist and Deputy Director of the Israel Antitrust Authority between 2003-2005; was a member of the Anti-Dumping Commission of the Ministry of Industry and Trade between 1999-2003; served as a member of the Subcommittee on the Cost of Living and Competition of the Trajtenberg Commission on Social and Economic Change; and acted as a consulting member of the Bachar Intra-Agency Committee for Reform of the Financial Sector. Today he is a member of the Competition Task Force of Israel’s Grand Strategy Forum. Prof. Weiss has been a research fellow at IZA (a labor market research center) in Germany since 2000.

 

Throughout his academic career, Weiss has published more than fifty articles in refereed journals and professional books.

Suzanne Patt Benvenisti

Suzanne (Suzie) Patt Benvenisti is Director General of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.  In this position, Suzie holds responsibility for the Center’s operations, finances and strategy, including expanding the impact of the Center’s research on policy makers and the general public.  Suzie’s previous work experience includes serving as Director of Public Policy at Aetna, a US-based Fortune 100 health insurance company, where she advised senior management on issues relating to health care reform.  She has also worked for several non-profit organizations in the areas of programming and resource development and has provided management, strategy and operations consulting to a range of clients in the US, Israel, and Rwanda, including MIT’s Middle East Education through Technology (MEET), the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, Maine’s Community Partnership for Protecting Children, and the Judge Baker Children’s Center at Harvard Medical School.  In 2010, along with her husband, Suzie volunteered with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Jewish Service Corps at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, where she developed business plans for revenue generation, taught piano and singing, and mentored teenage orphans of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.  Suzie holds a Master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, Columbia University with a B.A. in political science.  Suzie lives in Jerusalem with her husband and two children.

Nachum Blass

Nachum Blass has been conducting research in the field of education for the past 45 years.

During these years, Nachum held various positions, including Assistant Director of the Ministry of Education, Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Education, and Director of the Institute for the Development of Education and Welfare.  Since 1989, he has been an independent researcher.

Nachum has coordinated various projects, such as education planning for the 1980s, preparation for absorbing the influx of Russian immigrants, and planning for extended school days, as well as participating in the Shoshani Committee for funding primary education and two other subcommittees in the national task force for the education system.

Nachum has been a senior researcher at the Taub Center for the past 25 years.

Dov Chernichovsky

Dov Chernichovsky (Ph.D. Economicsis a professor in emeritus of health economics and policy in the Department of Health Administration at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.  He is a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the USA, the Chair of the health policy program at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, and the Chairman of the Israeli National Nutrition Security Council. Dov has been consulting for the World Bank, where he was a staff member, has served on the board of the Israeli Cancer Society, the Israeli Family Planning Association, and the Association for the Advancement of Education in Israel. He is a member of the Baxter Prize advisory board and the editorial boards of several journals. Dov has helped establish educational and research programs in health economics and related fields in Israel.  He articulated a framework for studying health systems, known as the Emerging Paradigm; the applications of Hedonic Prices and Fuzzy Logic to the study of financing of health systems; and formulating the (no) effect of aging on aggregate healthcare costs over time. Dov was a member Israeli State (Blue Ribbon/Royal) Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Health Care System between 1998-1990. This commission outlined the reform proposal that led to the national health insurance legislation that was enacted in Israel in 1995. In 2000-2002 he served on another similar commission that prompted further reform proposals to the Israeli system. He subsequently became a health system advisor to the Israeli parliament. On behalf of the World Bank, he worked in Botswana, India, and Indonesia, and played a vital role in health system reform formulations in Romania, Russia, and now in Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica. In Russia, he helped to formulate the health insurance legislation underlying the current Russian health system.

John Gal

Professor Gal is the Chair of the Social Welfare Policy program and a Principal Researcher at the Taub Center. He is at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served as Dean of the school. He serves as Director of the research program in the field of social welfare policy. Professor Gal was a member of the Tamir Commission (2002), which recommended implementing the Wisconsin Plan in Israel. In 2007, he served in the public committee appointed by the Israel Academy of Sciences to assess the Wisconsin Plan’s achievements and failures. He was recently a member of the Committee for Combating Poverty (2014) and headed the sub-committee on social security and welfare. Professor Gal has a PhD in social work from the Hebrew University (1996). He has published many articles and books, including: A Voluntary Burden Indeed? The Story of Dealing with Unemployment (2002), Social Security in Israel (2004), and Policy Practice in Social Work (2011). He also edited Professional Ideologies and Preferences in Social Work: A Global Study (2003) with Idit Weiss and John Dixon, and Social Workers Affecting Social Policy (2013) with Idit Weiss-Gal,. Two additional books were published by the Taub Center: . Aviram, U., Gal, J. and Katan, Y. (eds.), (2007).  Formulating social policy in Israel: Trends and issues (2007) with Uri Aviram and Yossi Katan and Access to Social Justice in Israel (2009) with Mimi Ajzenstadt  His academic focus is primarily on comparative analysis and implementation of social policy and social security in Israel and around the world. His current research topics include Mediterranean welfare states, religion and social policy, immigration and social policy, policy practice as well as a historical perspective on the social work profession.

Yossi Shavit

Yossi Shavit is the Weinberg professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University. He specializes in the study of stratification processes with an emphasis on education and educational policy. He is also studying ethnic relations and immigration. Currently, he is conducting (with Dr. Uri Shwed) a study of Arab-Jewish mixed schools in Israel. Under funding from the Jacobs Foundation, the study maps the social relations between Arab and Jewish students who attend mixed schools.
Shavit has also led several internationally comparative studies on social inequality. These include a study of stability and change in inequality of educational opportunity (Persistent Inequality, 1993); a study on country differences in the way young people make their way from school to the labor market (From School to Work, 1998), and on inequality in higher education (Stratification in Higher Education, 2007). He has also published many research papers on social inequality, ethnic relations and education in Israel and elsewhere.
Shavit completed his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and won Alon and Spencer fellowships. He has previously served as Professor at the European University Institute, has served as the President of the Israeli Sociological Association, and now heads the Taub Center’s Educational Policy Program.

 

Guy Yanay

In addition to working as a research assistant at the Taub Center, Guy is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics program (PPE) at Hebrew University.

Prior to joining the Taub Center team, he worked in a variety of positions in the field of technological education, including as a teaching assistant, content developer and project manager at the Rashi Foundation’s Cyber Education Center.

Haim Bleikh

Haim holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Bar Ilan University, focusing on the topic of “Time Series Analysis and Adjustment: Measuring, Modeling and Forecasting for Business and Economics.”

 

In 2009, Haim joined the Taub Center research team. Since then, he has participated in research on the subject of poverty and inequality. In addition, he has participated in research on demographics within the education system.

Gilad Brand

Brand has been a researcher at the Taub Center since 2014.  Prior to joining the Taub Center, Brand was a two-year fellow at the Milken Institute. As part of the fellowship, Brand worked at the President’s Office, with the President’s economic advisor (2012-2013), and in the Strategic Planning Division of the Ministry of Economy (2013-2014). Previously, Brand also worked as an economist at the Macro Institute for Economic Policy Research.

 

Brand holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Master’s degree in Economics (research track, with honors) from Bar-Ilan University. His Masters thesis addresses education, trade and labor productivity in various sectors of the economy. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in economics.

Hadas Fuchs

Hadas holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Economics from the Hebrew University.

 

Currently, Hadas is completing her Master’s degree in Economics in the research track, in the joint Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University program.

Prior to joining the Taub Center as a researcher, Fuchs held several other positions including as an engineer, teacher, and sign language interpreter.

 

Hadas is the author of several leading research papers on topics such as the socioeconomic situation of Israel’s young adults, gender gaps in the labor market, education and employment trends among Arab Israelis, and others.

Shavit Madhala

Shavit holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Management from the Hebrew University and is a graduate of the Amirim honors program at the Hebrew University.

 

Shavit is currently finishing her Master’s in Agricultural Economics in the research track. Her thesis examines the advantages of economies of scale and efficiency in water companies in Israel.

 

Prior to joining the Taub Center, Shavit served as a teaching assistant for undergraduate and graduate courses and a research assistant in the Department of Economics at the Hebrew University. She also served as an economist for the strategic business consulting company Zenovar.

Kyrill Shraberman

Kyrill and his family immigrated to Israel from Lviv, Ukraine in 1992.

 

Kyrill began his studies at the Hebrew University in 2001, and graduated in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Agriculture Management. In 2009, Kyrill joined the Taub Center. His fields of research include the labor market, income inequality and taxes.

 

Kyrill’s current work is related to general household expenditures and household spending on education in particular. He also conducts research on the relationship between education and economic growth.

Liora Bowers

Liora Bowers is the Director of Finance, Operations and Policy Analysis at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. Liora’s work areas include finance, budgeting and HR, and she is also responsible for developing policy briefs providing context and policy recommendations on current socioeconomic issues.  Several recent areas of focus include flexicurity labor policy, privatization in the healthcare system, pensions and social security, and health system priorities. Before joining the Taub Center, Liora was the Director of Health Policy and Practice for the Berkeley Forum project, a major health reform initiative involving the largest private and public sector healthcare organizations in California.  Liora has policy, strategy and finance experience with various for-profit and non-profit organizations, including Deloitte Consulting, Onyx Pharmaceuticals (now Amgen), the Clinton Foundation and Stanford Financial.  Liora holds an MBA with honors from the Haas School of Business and an MPH from UC Berkeley.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in International Economics from Georgetown University, where she played #1 singles on the women’s Division I tennis team.

Inbal Gafni

Inbal is responsible for language and content editing of Taub Center publications, production and management of the publishing process, and document layout.

 

Inbal was born in Israel in 1984, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hebrew Language and Literature and a Master’s degree in Language, with an emphasis on style and editing, from Tel Aviv University.

 

Previously, Inbal worked in various writing and editing positions, such as at Maariv newspaper and at various websites and publishing houses.

Laura Schreiber

Laura Schreiber has been working at the Taub Center since 2000.  She considers herself the “utility player” of the Center having filled various roles from personal assistant to the director to editing and lay-out of the English version of the annual State of the Nation Report.

 

Laura has a BA in psychology from Stanford University (phi beta kappa) and an MSc in Social Psychology (thesis with honors) from the London School of Economics.  Her other employment positions have included human resources at Luz Industries (solar energy), researcher at the Falk Institute of Mental Health Studies, and research assistant at the Brookdale Institute of Adult Human Development (now Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute).

 

Laura has lived in Jerusalem since 1977 and has 3 children of whom she is inordinately proud and beautiful grandchildren and more on the way.

Maya Dolgin

Maya Dolgin serves as the Taub Center’s Director of Community Relations. In this multi-faceted role, she is responsible for bringing Taub Center content into Jewish communities around the globe by identifying and building key relationships through the Center’s growing network. She works closely with the Center’s dissemination team on English-language content and communications while also serving as a main point of contact for the Center’s broader donor community. By bringing together her work experience in informal education, academic background in cognition, strategy, and marketing, and strong communication skills, Maya helps craft the Center’s messaging and how to convey its research findings in relevant and accessible ways.

 

Previously, Maya was the assistant director of the Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel, where she was responsible for planning and carrying out all aspects of the gap year program’s activities along with the director and staff of madrichim (counselors) under her supervision. She holds a BA in cognitive and linguistic sciences from Wellesley College and an MBA from Hebrew University with concentrations in strategy and marketing.

Lior Morag

Lior Morag is the Taub Center’s Online Media Associate. His main responsibilities include managing the Center’s social media activity and maintaining the Hebrew version of the website. Before working at the Taub Center, Lior worked as an editor for the iPad edition of the Calcalist Daily Newspaper, head of the Technology Desk for  Calcalist and a tech reporter for the “Nana10” website. Lior has a BA in Literature and Film from Tel Aviv University.

Tova Cohen

Tova initially moved to Israel on a one-year internship program at the Taub Center funded by the Israel Institute. She has since made Aliyah and been hired as a full time project manager.  In her role at the Center, Tova oversees a variety of interdepartmental tasks, including work with both the research team and the dissemination team. In particular, Tova works in government relations, content writing, operations, and more.

 

This is her second extended period in Israel – Tova participated in Young Judaea Year Course in Israel from 2010-2011, during which she was selected for the “Year Course Manhigut Leadership Program,” volunteered with asylum seekers from South Sudan, and interned at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

 

In 2014, Tova graduated from the University of Colorado, where she received her BA in political science and Jewish studies. During her time in University, Tova was an intern in the office of United States Congressman Jared Polis and was involved in the 2012 Barack Obama campaign on her campus.

 

Hedva Elmackias

Hedva Elmackias has served as the Taub Center’s office manager since 2009. Hedva is responsible for the administration of a number of areas at the Center including HR, payroll, purchasing, operations, event and conference planning, distribution of publications, and more.

 

From 2004 to 2008, Hedva was responsible for marketing and logistics at a food additives company, prior to which she worked for many years as the office manager at Renato Jarach law firm in Jerusalem.

 

Between 1991-1993, Hedva studied in the Department of English Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition, Hedva is a certified travel agent and travel consultant.

 

Hedva lives with her husband Yossi and their three children in Ma’ale Adumim.

Kasanesh Ambao

Kasanesh Ambao is responsible for cleaning services at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. She immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 2005. She also works at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Kasanesh joined the Taub Center team in 2010. She lives in Beit Shemesh with her husband and five children.

Dudu Barazani

David Barzani is responsible for maintenance and deliveries at the Taub Center. Dudu (as he is fondly known) worked as a taxi driver and then as a head of maintenance at a school in Givat Ze’ev. He joined the Taub Center in 2015. Dudu has 4 children and 6 grandchildren and lives in Givat Ze’ev.

Kids these days: the socioeconomic situation of young adults in Israel

Each generation embodies its own attributes, values, standards, and work ethic. Generation Y, known as the millennials generation, is composed of individuals born in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Millennials indeed have a uniquely perceived image throughout the world, and many leaders of recent social protest movements have emerged from among this generation. The protests on socioeconomic issues in Israel, which began in the summer of 2011, were largely initiated by these young adults. The discontent ranged from issues about the price of housing to the price of cottage cheese.

Both external and internal factors influenced the situation of young adults. The external factors include those economic conditions that prompted the social protests, such as the challenges that many young adults face due to the rise in housing prices. The internal factors relate to the modern characteristics of young adults; Generation Y is often accused of being more spoiled than previous generations, with an attitude of self-absorption, lack of industriousness, and a spirit of pampering that affects their moral and professional code. A new study by Taub Center researcher Hadas Fuchs examines the social and economic conditions of young adults in the realms of higher education, employment, and housing, ultimately seeking to determine whether these perceptions are supported by the data.

One of Fuchs’ major findings is that Generation Y is more educated than the preceding generation. Over the last two decades, the share of students among the 18-34 year-old population has increased from 9% in 1995 to 15% in 2011.  The majority of this increase comes from students enrolled in academic colleges rather than universities. In 2014, 96,000 students were enrolled in colleges and 65,000 students were enrolled in universities.  In both the Arab Israeli population and the Jewish population there are more women than men with academic degrees. Young adults, particularly men, are both beginning their higher education and entering the labor force at a later age than in the past. These findings can likely be attributed to cultural or internal factors, such as the rise in popularity of traveling abroad after army service.

Even more than in the past, a high share of Jewish students, 65%, work while pursuing their degree, predominantly in part-time jobs. Between 1995 and 2011, employment rates among Jewish students rose as students progressed in their studies. Students are, however, mainly employed in clerical, sales, and service jobs with only a small share employed in occupations requiring post-secondary education.  As such, students often do not gain relevant work experience during the course of their studies.

Following their studies, educated individuals aged 31 to 34 have similar rates of employment and work in similar occupations as educated individuals ages 35-54. Nonetheless, as the first figure shows, there has been a decline in the real hourly wage for this group between 2004 and 2011. There are a number of potential explanations for this decline in wage. The delay of young adults in beginning their studies could lead them to have lower seniority – i.e., fewer years of experience – by the time they are in their early thirties. Additionally, the substantially higher rate of students pursuing an academic degree leads to a rise in supply of educated young adults.  It may be that there is no parallel rise in demand for those with academic degrees, which could also account for the decline in real wages, as Taub Center research shows.

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Following their mandatory military service, many young adults continue to live in their parents’ homes. As the second figure shows, since 2005, there has been a substantial increase in both single and married individuals aged 22 to 28 living with their parents. In addition, the delay in marriage age results in an additional increase in the overall share of those living with their parents. The trend may also be related to a change in housing prices, since the rise in young adults living at home corresponds to the sharp rise in housing prices in 2005, as well as to the delayed entry of many young adults into the labor market.

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The study finds that young married couples are also facing increasing obstacles to home ownership. Between 2003 and 2014, the share of married couples aged 25 to 30 living in a home that they own declined by 19 percentage points and stood at only 44%.This decrease aligns with the delay in initiating studies, and began prior to the sharp rise in housing prices. In the same years, young couples in the 31 to 34-year-old age group who live in a home that they owned declined by 12 percentage points and stood at 60% in 2011. For this group, most of the decline occurred after the rise in housing prices began.

In examining the situation of Israel’s young adults in the areas of higher education, employment and housing relative to the past, it is evident that since the 1990s there have been changes both in social norms and in the labor market. An overall delay was found in the initiation of independent adult living, which is reflected in the more advanced age for starting academic studies and entry into the labor market, in the later age for marriage and childbearing and in lower rates of homeownership among young adults. Despite these lags, by their early thirties most young adults conclude their studies (even those who have pursued higher education), successfully find employment, and leave their parents’ homes. Nonetheless, the research indicates that both social norms and external economic factors are associated with increased difficulty for young people in transitioning into adulthood.

State of the Nation Report 2015

The Taub Center’s annual State of the Nation Report published today (Wednesday) presents a broad overview of Israel’s current socioeconomic position in comparison to the past and to other countries. The report includes 13 studies covering topics related to labor markets, productivity, education, health, welfare, and public expenditures.  The Report was edited by Prof. Avi Weiss, Executive Director of the Taub Center and Associate Professor of Economics at Bar-Ilan University, and Prof. Dov Chernichovsky, Taub Center Senior Researcher and Health Policy Program Chair.

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A selection of findings from chapters in the State of the Nation Report 2015:

 

Occupations at Risk: Computerization Trends in the Israeli Labor Market

Shavit Madhala-Brik (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • About 40% of Israel’s employment is in occupations that are considered “high risk” of undergoing a process wherein computers or machines will replace manpower within the coming two decades.  This is a global trend that exemplifies modern, advancing economies, and in the United States and Germany, for example, an even greater share of employment, 47% and 49% respectively, work in high risk occupations.
  • The Taub Center study is based on a model that classifies occupations by their risk of computerization in the future. The occupations that are at highest risk are those that are characterized as repetitive and technical, such as bookkeeping and data entry. In contrast, those occupations deemed to be low risk include those that require skills such as creativity, social intelligence, proficiency in negotiation, and the ability to understand complexity. According to the analysis, occupations such as economists, historians and bus drivers are at medium risk of computerization, while occupations such as doctors, social workers, choreographers, and psychologists are classified as being at low risk.
  • Many employees in occupations at high risk of computerization come from more vulnerable population groups: those without an academic education, low wage earners and younger employees. The group at highest risk is non-Jewish men. About 52% of work hours among this group are in construction and building occupations – occupations in which most of the jobs are at high risk of computerization. In 2011, about 59% of hours worked by individuals aged 15-24 were in occupations at high risk of computerization. Taub Center Researcher Shavit Madhala-Brik asks, “What will young adults do for work in the coming decades after these jobs have become computerized?”
  • The computerization process has been evident in the past two decades, as there has been a decline of 9% in the relative share of work hours in high risk occupations out of all work hours. For example, between 1995 and 2011, there was a decline of 38 percent in the employment of metal workers, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, and welders. Likewise, there has been a large shift of workers without an academic education into occupations in the service industry (similar to the trends seen in the United States).
  • The Taub Center study recommends several preparations for these changes in the labor market: the expanded use of vocational training programs that are targeted at populations that may drop out of the workforce, securing their employment potential for the long term; the regular updating of educational programs to ensure their relevancy; and the establishment of a government body to spearhead and coordinate on the subject with various relevant parties such as training institutions, academic institutes and schools.

The Cost of Living in Israel: An International Comparison and Historical Perspective

Gilad Brand (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • The Taub Center research addresses the question of whether it is indeed “expensive to live in Israel,” and corroborates the prevailing sentiment that ignited the social protest movements of the past several years.  It does so through an examination of price levels in Israel relative to other countries over the last 25 years, after controlling for the effect of the exchange rate.
  • When taking into account per capita income, consumption prices in Israel are high relative to those in the majority of developed countries. This phenomenon has, for the most part, been persistent since the beginning of the 1990s and is not simply a result of the strong shekel of the past few years.
  • Taub Center Researcher Gilad Brand’s international comparison found that after accounting for exchange rate fluctuations, consumption prices in Israel were at a level commensurate with per capita income in only 4 out of the past 25 years; in all other years, prices levels were far higher. This finding was largely unique to Israel, and confirms that consumption prices in Israel have generally been relatively higher than in other developed countries, given the comparatively low level of incomes in Israel.
  • An examination of price levels by consumption category revealed a substantial and rapid rise in food prices alongside a corresponding increase in the profit margins in the industry. It appears that the profit margin increase was the result of changes in the structure of the market, which resulted in a decline in competitiveness alongside a low share of imports. In contrast, there were substantial price reductions in consumption items that were exposed to competition in the 1990s, such as clothing and footwear. These findings and other research evidence highlight the importance of continued exposure of the market to imports as a means of increasing competition, lowering prices, and improving consumer welfare in Israel.

The Socioeconomic Situation of Young Adults in Israel

Hadas Fuchs (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • The share of students among the 18-34 year-old population increased from 9% in 1995 to 15% in 2011. The majority of the increase comes from students enrolled in academic colleges. Over the last decade, the relative number of students enrolled in an Israeli university has declined, and in 2014 there were 65,000 students in universities (with 96,000 students enrolled in colleges). The data show that in the past few years, the growth in the share of students has slowed down.
  • Taub Center Researcher Hadas Fuchs found that, among young adults, women are better educated than men. The share of academics among those aged 31 to 34 is higher for women both in the Jewish population (49% for women versus 42% for men) as well as in the Arab Israeli population (21% for women versus 18% for men).
  • Young adults are both beginning their higher education and entering the labor force at a later age than in the past. This is particularly true for men. The employment rate among those aged 18 to 22 has declined from 31% in 1995 to 28% in 2010, and the share of men in this age group who are neither employed nor studying for an academic degree has increased from 76% to 81% among Jews and from 35% to 42% among Arab Israelis.
  • Between 1995 and 2011, among Jews, there was an increase in the share of students who were employed, and today about 65% of all students are employed. More than 55% of Jewish students work in part-time employment during their first 3 years of studies, and a good number of them are employed in sales and service occupations. It seems that, at least in the first few years of studies, young adults are not acquiring relevant work experience that will help in their future career choices; rather, they work to earn money.
  • Individuals aged 31 to 34 integrate into the labor market at similar rates to those of older individuals, and are employed in similar occupations. Nonetheless, there has been a decline in the real hourly wage for this age group between 2004 and 2011. This decline is explained partially by a drop in the number of years of experience of young graduates in the labor market as their studies, and then subsequently their employment, is often delayed by a year.  In addition, the lower wages are explained in part by the increase in the percent of students, and by an increase in the share of young adults working in the service industry.
  • Since 2005, there has been an increase in the share of those aged 22 to 28 living with their parents. The rise may be due, among other factors, to a delay in the marriage age; nonetheless, the rise is considerable even when unmarried individuals alone are examined. This trend may be related to a rise in housing prices, as well as to the delayed entry of many young adults into the labor market.
  • Between 2003 and 2014, the share of married couples aged 25 to 30 living in a home that they own declined by 19 percentage points and stood at only 44%. This decrease aligns with the delay in initiating studies and began prior to the sharp rise in housing prices. In the same years, young couples in the 31 to 34 year-old age group who live in a home that they own declined by 9 percentage points and stood at 60%. For this group, most of the decline occurred after the rise in housing prices began.

Causes for the Widening of Productivity Gaps Between Israel and the OECD Countries: A Multi-Year Study

Eitan Regev and Gilad Brand (Taub Center Researchers)

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  • Over the past decades, the productivity gap between Israel and other OECD countries has widened. This Taub Center study reveals that there are five large branches that account for 81% of the widening of the productivity gap within the private sector. The most striking of these is the wholesale trade industry, which contributed 30% to the widening gap even though it represents only 8.6% of total work hours in the private sector. Additional industries that contributed to the widening of the productivity gap in disproportional terms were telecommunications and postal service, food, metal products and production, and publishing and printing.

o  Taub Center researchers Regev and Brand found that a substantial factor in the ability of an Israeli industry to narrow productivity gaps relative to the OECD is the extent of exposure of the industry to competitive imports. This is apparently due to the pressure to become more efficient when competition from outside of Israel is substantial. In industries with less exposure to imports, productivity gaps widened relative to the OECD.

o  Service industries that are non-tradable (that is, industries that operate only in the local market) are a major factor underlying productivity gaps relative to the OECD and in the widening gap over time. This fact is likely indicative of shortcomings in the local business environment, such as monopolies and structural and regulatory obstacles that harm competition and ultimately limit the pace of productivity growth – as well as the overall improvement in the standard of living.

o  Differences in the average number of work hours per worker between Israel and other OECD countries can explain, at most, about half of the gap in productivity per work hour, but do not explain the widening of the gap that has occurred in the past two decades.  Differences in the relative share of the various industries in Israel as compared to the OECD also do not explain the widening of the gap – and even serve to narrow it slightly, particularly as the high productivity high-tech and finance industries account for a larger share of the private sector in Israel relative to the OECD.

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The Dual Labor Market: Trends in Productivity, Wages and Human Capital in the Economy

Gilad Brand and Eitan Regev (Taub Center Researchers)

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  • The Israeli economy is characterized by a duality. At one end are the high-tech and other advanced industries, with high and quickly rising labor productivity. At the other end are industries characterized by low productivity and minimal growth. This second group represents about 60 to 65% of the private sector, and its productivity levels have not increased much since the 1990s despite the rapid technological developments since. This is an anomaly relative to other developed countries.
  • The growth in the productivity gap within the private sector sheds light on different trends in the labor market since the 1990s, among them the growth in income inequality and the stagnation in the real average wage.
  • The high-tech and other advanced industries are very different from the rest of the private sector, not only with regard to productivity, but also in terms of the characteristics of their workers and the returns on education for these workers. The likelihood of a worker with a secondary school education working in a branch with high productivity and high wages declined by 14%. The likelihood of a worker with an academic education working in branches with low wages and low productivity fell by 15%.
  • At the same time as employment mobility between sectors declined, the relationship between the wages in the high productivity and low productivity sectors also diminished. Until the early 2000s, there were wage differences between industry sectors with varying levels of productivity, but there was almost full correlation between the growth of salary across these sectors. In later years, the correlation almost completely disappeared.  An empirical examination reveals that growing differences in worker characteristics in the two sectors led the sectors down different paths with regard to productivity and wages.
  • Taub Center Researchers Brand and Regev propose that the solution to the widening gap lies in diversifying the Israeli export base and creating vocational training programs that will strengthen employment mobility between the sectors. These tools will expose larger segments of the labor market to employment with companies that are exporters, which pay higher wages and enjoy rising productivity. Such actions may also put pressure on wages even in branches that sell primarily within the local market and that are characterized by low productivity levels. This pressure might encourage companies in these branches to streamline their processes, ultimately leading to a narrowing of gaps within the Israeli labor market.

Poverty and Inequality in Israel: An International Perspective

Haim Bleikh (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • Israel’s poverty and inequality rates, when calculated based on market income (gross income from work, capital and private pensions), are close to the OECD average. In contrast, the rates using disposable income (after transfer allowances and direct tax payments) are among the highest of Western countries. These rates are affected by the demographic structure, the relative size of the elderly population and differences in welfare systems – all of which have an impact on the income structure and particularly market income.
  • When examining the population for which the head of the household is aged 59 and under, Taub Center researcher Haim Bleikh  found that poverty rates and inequality in Israel are even greater relative to other developed countries, both in terms of market income and disposable income.
  • One of the reasons for the low public expenditure (as a share of GDP) in Israel relative to that in other developed countries is that overall tax revenues (as a share of GDP) in Israel are among the lowest. The connection between tax revenues and public spending has substantial implications for the ability to reduce disparities in Israel. As such, public discourse should focus on both the sources and uses of the budget collectively – rather than on each component separately.
  • Employment rates of individuals aged 15 to 59 rose in Israel between 2002 and 2011, and the gap between the employment rate of this population in Israel and the OECD average narrowed. Nevertheless, during this same time period, there was an increase in disposable income poverty rates among households that include a wage earner in this age group.
  • At the beginning of the new millennium, 73% of all coupled households of working age in the OECD countries had two or more wage earners; the parallel figure for Israel was 57%. A decade later, the OECD average was 75%, while for Israel, this figure increased more substantially, to 65%.
  • About 20% of retirement-age individuals in Israel are below the poverty line in terms of disposable income, compared to 12% on average in the OECD countries. Notably, however, income from pensions (both public and private) for elderly individuals in Israel (as a percent of GDP) is not lower than the average in other developed countries. This finding suggests that there are large gaps in income among the elderly population in Israel. Therefore, a balance must be found between increasing economic incentives that will expand employment and labor income among this population and finding solutions and resources to assist this population and ensure that they do not fall behind, particularly the elderly who are not entitled to work pensions or who have not saved sufficiently for a comfortable pension.

Public Expenditure on Welfare

Johnny Gal (Chair of Taub Center Welfare Policy Program) and Shavit Madhala-Brik (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • Public expenditure on welfare was about NIS 86 billion in 2014.This amount has shown slow growth since the middle of the past decade, principally due to an increase in transfer allowances targeting the elderly population. At the same time, there has been a decline in expenditures for social welfare.
  • About 80% of the overall expenditure on welfare is devoted to social security, a category that primarily includes allowances from the National Insurance Institute. Expenditure on social welfare, such as housing and family services, represent only 20% of the overall expenditure.
  • The number of households under the care of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services was 464,000 in 2014, about 20% of the total households in Israel.
  • The largest expenditure of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services is on personal and social services that are intended primarily for families and that are supplied through municipal social service offices via a variety of frameworks. In 2014, the Ministry financed about 6,450 workers in these various departments, the vast majority of whom are social workers (about 5,000). The Ministry financed 75% of the costs of social services while the municipalities funded the remaining 25%.
  • Daycare for infants and toddlers was the subject of lengthy discussion in the Trajtenberg Committee that was established following the 2011 social protests. The budget of the division of infant and toddler daycare within the Ministry of Economy increased by 57% between 2010 and 2014. In 2014, the expenditure in this area came to more than one billion NIS.
  • The general social security expenditure has remained relatively stable over the years, although there have been substantial changes in some allowances. Old-age and survivor’s allowances as well as long-term care allowances together represent the largest expenditure (48%) among the various allowance types. The number of benefit recipients for these allowances increased by 32% and 66%, respectively, since 2000 – a trend that demonstrates the aging of the population.
  • There has been a sharp decline in the number of recipients of income support: from a high of 158,000 families in 2003 down to 103,000 families in 2014. This decline was due to an increase in employment as well as changes in the eligibility requirements. The number of families entitled to child allowances grew substantially, although there was a simultaneous sharp reduction in the value of the entitlement; in some cases, the amount received by a household was reduced by half.
  • Following government reform, the expenditure on services and allowances for Holocaust survivors went from 0.25% of GDP in 2000 to 0.33% in 2014. Today, the amount of this expenditure reflects about 5% of the total social security expenditure.

 

The Relationship Between Social Capital and Health in the Haredi Sector

Prof. Dov Chernichovsky (Taub Center Senior Researcher and Chair, Taub Center Health Policy Program) and Chen Sharony

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  • In Israel, studies find a positive correlation between a locality’s socioeconomic status and the life expectancy of its residents. Nevertheless, in cities with a high concentration of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) – Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh – life expectancy is substantially higher than would be expected given these cities’ low socioeconomic status. In addition, the vast majority of Haredim (73.6%) consider their health to be “very good,” in contrast to only 50% among other segments of the population. Only 18.7% of Haredim reported that they suffered from a health problem of any kind, compared to double that figure or more among other population groups.
  • Haredi communities have high levels of social capital, as expressed in a high number of social relationships, high levels of satisfaction with family relationships, strong social support systems and high levels of volunteering.
  • There is a significant positive correlation between being Haredi and the likelihood of self-reporting very good health.  There is also a positive correlation between self-reporting good health and high social capital. This finding supports the hypothesis that Haredim in Israel have high social capital and perceptions of good health that contribute to longevity (although these findings may be related to social norms that frown on complaining, particularly to people from outside of their community).
  • Chernichovsky and Sharony found that, on average, life expectancy was 3 years higher among Haredi men in these three communities than would be expected based on their socioeconomic status. Among Haredi women, life expectancy was 1.5 years higher than would be expected based on their socioeconomic status.  The authors suggest the discrepancy between the genders might be related to differences in the level of interactions with friends, as expressed by multiple synagogue visits by males over the course of the day.

Tracking and Attainment in Israeli Secondary Education

Carmel Blank (Taub Center Education Policy Program Fellow), Prof. Yossi Shavit (Chair, Taub Center Education Policy Program) and Dr. Meir Yaish

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  • Israeli secondary education offers pupils four main educational tracks. The main track, which includes the majority of pupils (60%), is the academic track. The other three tracks are technological tracks: the prestigious engineering track, which consists of  about 15% of secondary school pupils; and two other tracks – the technological track (16% of pupils) and the vocational track (10% of pupils). Despite the changes that have occurred in tracking over the years, socioeconomic factors continue to affect pupil assignment to educational tracks.
  • Jewish pupils in the technological and vocational tracks generally come from lower socioeconomic groups and from relatively weaker educational backgrounds. Among the Arab Israeli population, there has been a rise in the demand for technological education, which is considered appropriate for pupils who might otherwise drop out of school.
  • The highest rates of bagrut qualification come from the ranks of the engineering track (82%). In the academic track, the share of those with a bagrut qualification is 70%, and in the vocational track, the share of those finishing secondary school with a bagrut qualification is 40%. These gaps are related to pupil socioeconomic characteristics in each track as well as to prior educational attainment. However, when the effect of the pupils’ background variables was controlled for, the gaps remained between bagrut qualification rates. This suggests that pupils in the academic and engineering tracks receive better preparation for the exams than those in the technological/vocational tracks.
  • The share of girls in the academic track (about 56%) and in the vocational track (about 59%) is relatively high, while girls are underrepresented in the engineering track (39%). The authors suggest that this could be due to girls’ reluctance to major in math and sciences.
  • Only 12% of pupils changed tracks between 10th and 12th grade, which indicates that for most pupils, the 10th grade track is permanent. The majority of changes are from the technological/vocational tracks to the academic track, a very encouraging finding, although the majority of those who transfer are from strong backgrounds with high previous educational achievements. These are pupils who manage to “correct” their educational tracking and shift to the academic track.
  • The drop-out rates from the technological track (5.5%) and the vocational track (5.2%) are substantially higher than from the academic track (2.9%) and the engineering track (1.4%).

The Increase in the Number of Income Earners and Its Impact on Household Income

Ayal Kimhi and Kyrill Shraberman (Taub Center Researcher)

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  • Between 2003 and 2011, the average number of income earners per household in Israel grew from 1.18 to 1.32. At the same time, the average size of households did not change substantially. Overall, income for the typical household rose as a result of the increased number of earners.
  • The stagnation of real wages since the beginning of the millennium might explain the increase in the number of income earners. Having additional members enter the labor market helped households maintain, and even increase, the standard of living to which they were accustomed.
  • The income tax reductions initiated between 2003 and 2011 helped some households improve their situation despite the stagnation in real wages. For example, between 2003 and 2014, the average direct tax rate (including income and social security taxes) for individuals without children earning the average wage declined from 26.1% to 16.5%. Nevertheless, a good number of employees (about half of those in the labor market) earn less than the income tax threshold, and were therefore not directly affected by these rate reductions.
  • Average real income from labor grew by 5% between 2003 and 2011, although the economy grew 21% in real terms during the same period. This means that income from labor eroded relative to the average standard of living in Israel. This is also evidenced by the decline in the relative share of labor in the national income: from 59% in 2000 to about 55% in 2010.
  • The increase in the number of income earners cannot be an ongoing solution to the stagnation in real wages that Israeli households are experiencing, as employment rates are approaching their maximum potential (except among Haredi men and Arab Israeli women).

The Change in the Tax Burden on Households Between 2003 and 2011

Moshe Hazan

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  • Tax policy between 2003 and 2011 primarily benefitted households in the top three income deciles, contributing to greater net income inequality and a sense among the middle class of an erosion in their standing. During this period, households in the 1st (lowest) through 5th deciles benefited from a reduction of about NIS 130 to NIS 430 in their tax burden, while households in the 8th to 10th (highest) deciles enjoyed a tax reduction of between NIS 800 and NIS 2,500 per month.
  • Between the years 2003 and 2011, the largest decline in tax burden was for households in the lowest decile: 8.9 percentage points. The other deciles experiencing the largest reduction in taxes were households in the 9th and 10th deciles, with a reduction of 5.7 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points, respectively. Households in 2nd, 3rd and 4th deciles saw a reduction in overall taxes on the order of 2.5 percentage points.
  • In 2011, the direct tax burden (the percent of income tax out of gross income) was lower than in 2003 among all of the deciles; naturally, however, wealthier households enjoyed a greater reduction since they pay the majority of income tax. The direct tax burden on households in the lowest decile was 6.2% of gross income in 2011, a reduction of 1.4 percentage points relative to 2003. In contrast, during this period, households in the highest decile enjoyed a reduction of 6.1 percentage points in their direct tax burden, which stood at 27.2% of gross income in 2011.
  • The indirect tax burden, which is defined as the percent of tax on consumption out of net income, was lower in 2011 than in 2003 for all income deciles. In 2003, the indirect tax burden stood at 34.7% of net income for the lowest decile, in contrast to 26.1% in 2011. In the 5th decile, the indirect tax burden fell from 18.9% to 17.0%, while for those households in the top decile, the indirect tax burden fell from 13.3% in 2003 to 12.7% in 2011. In both years examined, the closer households were to the lowest deciles, the higher their indirect tax burden.

Contract Workers in Israel

Noam Gruber

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  • In Israel, it is common to distinguish between two types of contract workers: agency contract workers, who work under the direct supervision and guidance of the client, and service contract workers, who provide a service for the client but remain under the direction and supervision of the contracting agency. There are important differences between the two types of workers. Service contract workers are older (on average 44.5 years old in 2011) and are less educated than the overall working population, and there is a high share of immigrants and women among them. In contrast, agency contract workers are generally a younger group (on average 36.5 years old in 2011), and their characteristics are more similar to those of the general working population.
  • In the past few years, there have been many claims that the use of contract workers is much more prevalent in Israel than in other developed countries. This study dispels these claims and demonstrates that this misperception is due to incorrect definitions and classifications of workers. To this day, most studies compare the overall rate of contract workers in Israel (aggregating both agency contract workers and service contract workers) to the rate of agency workers in other countries (the international figures generally do not include outsourced or subcontracted workers that are similar to service contract workers in Israel). As a result, the phenomenon in Israel is overestimated.
  • The number of service contract workers more than doubled between 2000 and 2011, while the number of agency contract workers decreased by half.
  • The share of immigrants among service contract workers declined somewhat between 2000 and 2011, although at the end of the period it still remained high (61.5%). In contrast, during the same period, the rate of immigrants among the general working population decreased from 41% to 32%. The share of women among service contract workers also fell relative to the beginning of the previous decade, although in 2011 it stood at 57.4% and was still higher than that of the general working population.
  • Another characteristic of service contract workers is the relatively large number of workers who are employed in a part-time capacity. The share of service contract workers in full-time employment is 53.7%, a figure that is substantially lower than the share among non-contract workers (83.9%).  Many service contract workers (about 25%) would like to increase their positions but are unable to do so.
  • The Taub Center study suggests various policy steps regarding contract workers. The author recommends encouraging the employment of agency contract workers, who are by and large younger and better educated, through longer contracts that enable their employment without requiring their recruitment as employees. In contrast, Gruber suggests protecting service contract workers from exploitation through greater wage transparency; their paystub should clearly show the amount paid to the worker and the amount paid to the contracting agency. In this manner, all parties will be able to assess if the contract work relationship is worthwhile, and clients will not be able to ignore their responsibility to ensure that workers are paid according to the law.
  • The author also suggests that the Contractors Law should be expanded so that it also covers non-profits that serve as contracting agencies (such as those created by municipalities). In addition, he suggests that the law should be changed to include service providers in all areas and not just those who provide guarding, security and cleaning services, as the law currently prescribes.

Inequality in the Education System: Who Opposes and Who Gains from the Gaps?

Nachum Blass (Taub Center Senior Researcher)

  • In the past few years, the Ministry of Education has dealt with a number of issues to try to advance equality in education. Senior Researcher Nachum Blass’ perspective is that although the value placed on equality is high, oftentimes policy is determined by the opinions and for the benefit of more well-established groups who greatly influence public discourse.
  • In this chapter, Blass raises several interesting examples that, in his view, highlight inequality within the education system:
    • School budgeting methods: The current budgeting formula calls for allocating differential funds to schools based on the socioeconomic characteristics of the student population.  In reality, this formula changes little from the existing method, in which only a small fraction of resources is dedicated to affirmative action, with insufficient extra hours funded to help narrow the gaps between the various populations. For example, while the Shoshani Committee’s recommendation from 2002 (which was implemented in 2004 and changed to a different method in 2008), called for pupils from weaker socioeconomic backgrounds to receive 70 weekly teaching hours, the current method has them receiving only 46 weekly hours (in third grade State schools with an average class size of 35 pupils).
    • An additional (second) teaching assistant in pre-compulsory kindergarten: The decision to add a teaching assistant in pre-compulsory kindergarten classes with more than 30 pupils was done simultaneously in all locations, without any consideration for pupil characteristics. Even the higher subsidies to weaker socioeconomic municipalities that were included in the original decision were canceled due to pressure from other municipalities.

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    • Reducing class size: The “sardine protest” to reduce class size was primarily in more well-established communities in the center of the country. Following those protests, it was decided to devote resources to a gradual reduction in overall class size in primary and lower-secondary schools. This decision will primarily benefit more well-established populations, since schools with pupils in low socioeconomic standing (primarily Arab Israelis and Haredim in cities with a large Haredi population) were more overcrowded and were already slated for a reduction in their class size.
    • The protests in Christian schools: Christian schools, which are classified as “recognized but not official,” are budgeted at 75% of the level of recognized schools. At the beginning of the school year, these institutions went on strike and demanded budget equality with the schools in the Haredi network of “Maayan Torani” and the “independent” schools, which have the same legal status but receive full budget allocation. Christian schools are discriminated against relative to pupils in these two systems, although they are not discriminated against relative to other Jewish institutions (private or semi-private) that are also classified as “recognized but not official.” As a consequence, their battle could create a precedent that would weaken public education. The differential budget is one of the tools that the Ministry of Education has to strengthen public schools, which, in contrast to certain private institutions, do not set admission requirements and are required to use an official educational program. If their demands are met, Christian schools will receive full budgeting and the doors will open for the establishment of additional private schools – something that will serve to increase polarization in the education system.

 

The press release and accompanying materials are available for publication starting Wednesday (23/12/15) at 6:00am

 

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, headed by Prof. Avi Weiss, is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Itay Matityahu, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-290-4678. 

 

 

The Singer Series: State of the Nation Report 2015

Read the full PDF of the State of the Nation Report 2015

Individual chapters can be accessed in the table of contents to the right.

We are pleased to present the Herbert M. Singer Annual Report Series, State of the Nation Report: Society, Economy and Policy in Israel 2015. The 13 chapters that appear in this volume deal with a wide variety of subjects and are based on unique studies that show the many faces of the socioeconomic situation in Israel today. There are many things to learn about social policy from the subjects surveyed in this year’s book; and there are many things to take away about how to improve the welfare of Israel’s citizens. Israel’s population at year’s end stands at some 8.5 million people – about 0.2 percent more than last year. According to OECD data, Israel’s per capita GDP in 2014 was about $33,000, which is about NIS 126,000. The GNP, current to the beginning of 2015, increased by about 2.5 percent (Central Bureau of Statistics), and per capita income also increased. This annual report, which is divided into five sections, details the significance of this basic data for the everyday life of Israelis.

Arab Israeli Pharmacists in the Israeli Labor Market

For many years, the Arab Israeli population has struggled to find a place in the Israeli labor market. This is reflected in relatively low employment rates, few working women and limited representation in those occupations considered prestigious. For this reason, the relatively rapid entrance of Arab Israelis over the past decade into the labor force in the field of pharmacy stands out. A new Taub Center research study conducted by Prof. Noah Lewin-Epstein, Prof. Alexandra Kalev, Erez Marantz, and Shimrit Slonim examined how Arab Israeli pharmacists integrate into the private retail marketplace, as a test case for the integration of Arab Israelis (and in particular those with an academic education) into the Israeli labor market.

According to the researchers, the integration of this group in general is positive, both from the perspective of the satisfaction of the Arab Israeli pharmacists themselves and as an indicator for the potential integration of Arab Israelis into the labor force – an outcome that would likely strengthen the Israeli economy. Nevertheless, the Taub Center study points to a number of difficulties and obstacles that characterize the entrance of Arab Israeli pharmacists into the marketplace. The researchers also provide policy recommendations that may improve the situation.

According to Ministry of Health data, the number of registered pharmacists of employment age has grown by 50% in the past 12 years. Along with the overall expansion in the profession, the number of Arab Israelis in this field has also grown, and Arab Israelis now represent about one-third of all pharmacists (see the figure). To a great extent, this growth stems from the entrance of Arab Israeli women into the profession. For a number of years, the majority of Jewish pharmacists have been women – about 58% in 2012 – while among Arab Israelis, the field was dominated by men. Over the past decade, the share of Arab Israeli women in the field has risen, and the figure is nearing that of Arab Israeli men.

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A key factor for the demographic change within the pharmacy field is linked to changes in opportunities for higher education among the Arab Israeli population. Since the signing of the peace accords between Israel and Jordan in 1994, the doors to higher education in Jordan have opened for Arab citizens of Israel. Arab Israelis now have the opportunity to study pharmacy in Jordan and then to return and integrate into the profession in Israel. In fact, in 2005, more than one-third of all pharmacy licenses (for both Arab Israelis and Jews) were issued to graduates of institutions in Jordan.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with pharmacists, managers and owners of pharmacies, with the goal of examining the characteristics of the various career stages within the pharmacy field and identifying the obstacles to integration of Arab Israeli pharmacists into the profession.

The findings show that the experiences of Jews and Arab Israeli pharmacists differ from the outset; the process of finding an internship position differs greatly between the two groups. For most Jews, internships are often found prior to completion of studies; while for their Arab Israeli counterparts, this can be a very difficult process. This stage is particularly challenging for those studying in Jordan, who find that employers prefer those who have studied and graduated from institutions in Israel. Graduates of Jordanian institutions are unable to work as pharmacy assistants during their studies, unlike those studying in Israel, who are often able to transition from a pharmacy assistant position into an internship at their workplace. In addition, many pharmacy employers feel that the Jordanian coursework is of poorer quality than that in Israel. Such challenges in finding an internship position mean that many Arab Israeli pharmacists have to compromise at this stage, often even starting to work without pay (which is against the law), or starting as a pharmacy assistant – a position that is generally reserved for students.

The job search phase for Arab Israelis is also prolonged relative to that of Jewish pharmacists, although it is generally shorter than the internship search process. The Taub Center interviews found that the main reason for the shorter job search relative to the internship process is that Arab Israeli pharmacists tend to keep working where they do their internships (33% of all interviewees). In contrast, following their internship and qualification exam, Jewish pharmacists tend to change their place of employment to somewhere more suitable for them (only 8% of the Jewish interviewees stayed on to work where they had interned).

The Taub Center study notes that even though a large share of the pharmacists in the country is Arab Israeli, this group’s representation among management is lacking. This finding can be explained, at least in part, by the fact that Arab Israeli pharmacists tend to be younger than their Jewish counterparts and have not yet accumulated the seniority necessary for advancement to senior positions.  Nevertheless, according to the Arab Israelis who were interviewed, the most senior management positions, decision making and pharmacy chain management had no Arab Israeli representation. A feeling of discrimination regarding the large pharmaceutical companies was also evident in the interviews. The Arab Israeli interviewees noted that the large pharmaceutical companies have army service as a prerequisite for employment, effectively closing the doors to this population.

When questioned about the personal level – daily interactions and social relations in the workplace – interviewees generally responded positively. Overall, the interviewees raised certain challenges, like dealing with women wearing the hijab or speaking in Arabic among colleagues at work. The overall picture is encouraging, however, because it indicates cooperation on professional grounds. Furthermore, direct contact in the workplace between Arab Israeli and Jewish pharmacists also allows them to get to know each other.

Nevertheless, ethnic tensions between Arab Israeli pharmacists and Jewish clients appear to be prevalent. The interviews revealed that there are occasions when a client is dissatisfied and expresses his anger with ethnic slurs. According to the study, however, the most important aspect of these incidents is the way they are handled by the system – sometimes employers support the pharmacists while on other occasions, the customer service policy leads to tolerance for racist remarks.

Religious holidays are another problem that has not been adequately managed by the system. In most cases, pharmacists indicate that their employers and colleagues are considerate in this regard, but it seems that there are no official organizational policies on the matter.  Those who are unable to find a substitute for their shift are often forced to work even on their religious holy days.

The Taub Center study proposes several steps to improve the integration of Arab Israeli pharmacists. Some employers are reluctant to grant internships to graduates of Jordanian institutions because they are concerned that the level of studies is inferior or because graduates are unfamiliar with the local market and products. To remove this employment barrier, the state should run a course for graduates of Jordanian institutions to familiarize them with the local market and pharmaceuticals in Israel while simultaneously bridging between potential employers and Arab Israeli pharmacists. The study also suggested that the state subsidize intern salaries, primarily for those graduating with honors from Jordanian institutions. According to the researchers, these actions are worthwhile not just for Jordanian graduates, but also for Israel, which is not opening additional pharmacy programs due to its reliance on graduates of foreign institutions.

In addition, the researchers recommended closer regulation of the religious rights of workers. In particular, policies should be developed that are sensitive to the uniqueness of the month of Ramadan and that require the employer to take steps to ensure a number of days off, shifts that are easier for employees who fast, and a longer break to eat the evening meal (with pay), for those who work evening shifts during this month.

In order to protect pharmacists from abusive customers, the researchers suggested enacting a law against bullying in the workplace, requiring the employer “to deal effectively with cases of harassment or bullying, and to do everything possible to prevent and to rectify the harm caused by harassment.” Proposing this bill as well as raising consciousness among pharmacists and their employers will help create a safe working environment for Arab Israeli pharmacists.

Reforming Consumer Insolvency Policy in Israel

To read the full document, click here (in Hebrew only)

A new study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel finds that the treatment of debtors who fall behind on their debts in Israel is harsh relative to other countries. The sanctions imposed are severe, and the opportunities for debtors to extricate themselves from debt and to proceed with their lives are limited. In light of this, the study presents a recommendation for comprehensive reform in the credit market that will be an improvement for both debtors and the credit market as a whole.

 

Study findings:

  • As of 2012, debtors with household debts languished an average of about 12 years in the debt enforcement and collection process before even applying for bankruptcy, and even those who obtain a bankruptcy discharge had to wait an average of around five years. In all, very few Israelis received a discharge from household indebtedness.
  • Sanctions on debtors in Israel are harsh compared to all of the many European and North American countries studied, and they do not appear effective in improving debt collection rates.
  • The reform in the credit market should include three components: establishing an effective credit rating system; the cancellation of sanctions imposed on debtors;  and the adoption of effective methods for allowing those who are insolvent to obtain a fresh start after making reasonable efforts to repay their debt.

 

In the past few years, the Knesset has dealt with several aspects of consumer indebtedness, including the cancellation of the  sanction of imprisonment for debtors who are unable to make their payments (2014), a temporary order to allow a widespread exemption from debt for those of limited means (2015), improving access to  bankruptcy relief (2015), and establishing an effective credit rating system (2015). A new study by Dr. Asher Meir conducted for the Taub Center examines the subject in depth and compares treatment of insolvents in Israel with accepted practices in other countries.

According to the study, the treatment of debtors in Israel is exceptionally harsh. Meir found that it is very hard for those in debt to continue with a normal life due to invasive sanctions and obstacles in the bankruptcy process. These difficulties prevent debtors from getting a fresh start, forcing them to remain tied to an unlimited repayment schedule.

In light of the findings, the Taub Center study recommends a comprehensive reform for dealing with insolvency and the credit market in Israel. The reform must include three components: (A) a complete elimination of sanctions against debtors of limited means; (B) adoption of a simple and comprehensive track for a fresh start that will enable debtors to continue with their lives after making a reasonable effort to repay their debt; (C) the creation of a credit rating database that includes  both positive and negative credit history.

The Problem: A shortage of information in the credit market.

The Solution: Sharing information

In all credit markets there are gaps between the information  available to the lender and that which is available to the borrower. These gaps create a situation in which problematic borrowers may receive loans at competitive rates even though their chances of repaying such loans are poor because the lender is unaware of the potential borrowers’ credit behavior and history. In contrast, all borrowers – even those with a good chance of repaying the loan – pay a “risk premium” to the lender, which insures against failure to repay. Another example of difficulties arising from information gaps is that experienced lenders, such as banks, are likely to offer credit to borrowers who are unfamiliar with the credit market at relatively high interest relative to their actual risk level. According to the Taub Center research, these information gaps move Israel further away from having a perfectly competitive credit market, one in which competition results in charges that reflect the true risk to the lender, and in a fair and reasonable degree of responsibility on the part of the borrower.

Meir notes that sharing credit information about the customer would improve the functioning of the market in several ways. First, it would limit the number of loans given to problematic borrowers, since the information on individual borrowers and their habits, as well as information on the overall borrowing population, will be translated into qualitative estimates of the risk to the lender. In addition, cooperation can be an educational tool for borrowers; poor repayment habits will be reflected in a credit report and a low credit rating, and such information sharing will encourage the client to engage in responsible fiscal management. The result will be higher overall rates of loan repayment, which will also bring about cheapening of the credit given to households.

From the perspective of the borrower, as his credit information is more transparent, his bargaining power will be raised in two ways. First, when the client knows his credit rating, he can better identify excessively high interest rates. Furthermore, when credit information reaches other lenders, competition will be created, resulting in more borrowing opportunities for the borrower.

The Taub Center study points out that Israel already has the Credit Information Service Law whose purpose is to provide credit information and repayment history about borrowers. The law, however, does not allow lenders to see highly valuable positive credit information (what bills were paid in a timely fashion), because collection of this information is possible only when customers sign a special waiver. As of 2012, fewer than 100 people had signed such a release form. As a result of the low quality of credit information, the number of requests for consumer credit reports has been quite low: in 2012 it was just one million – that is, one for every five citizens in the adult population of Israel. In the US, by contrast, there are 13 credit reports for each adult, that is, 80 times more than in Israel. To turn the information-sharing system into an effective one, Meir notes, it is important to add a critical mass of citizens and businesses to it.

The solution, according to Meir, is to adopt the recommendations of the government committee which called for the establishment of a centralized credit data base including positive information, which will enable all those who extend credit access to information enabling them to better evaluate credit risk. This is in contrast to the current system in which the majority of financial information and credit history is held by the bank. “The more we improve the flow of  information on the individual borrower’s behavior, as well as on the risks for all borrowers, the closer we approach a true competitive market.” says Meir.

The Problem: Harsh sanctions against debtors

The Solution: Eliminating sanctions and reliance on credit information

Meir found in his research that the sanctions against debtors who are unable to repay their loans in Israel are draconian relative to accepted practice in other countries. Specifically, in Israel there are two particularly painful sanctions against those classified as “of limited means,” that is, those who are unable to repay their debts in full. These two sanctions are a prohibition from leaving the country and restrictions on financial activities such as holding bank accounts and using credit cards. In a detailed examination of practices in other countries, Israel was unique in its dealings with debtors. Among the countries studied, the harshest sanctions are taken against those who fail to pay child support, and even in these cases, the use of the sanctions noted above is not common.

The Taub Center study notes that the “limited means” status does not indicate guilt or fault in repayment, only an inability to pay in full, and as such, it is particularly problematic to impose sanctions that damage earning power and the ability to conduct a normal life. In addition to harming the borrower himself, a system based on sanctions is likely to harm the credit market as well. The average client may also  hesitate to take credit knowing that routine incidents, like the loss of one’s job or an economic crisis, are likely to have harsh repercussions – and so the demand for credit is subdued. According to Meir, these defects are intensified by the fact that these sanctions have not been found to have any real influence on the repayment rates.

In this context, the study notes that in the past years there has been a trend of relaxing the sanctions of imprisonment and revocation of driver’s licenses of those in debt. Nevertheless, Meir recommends removing punitive sanctions altogether, and in their place, relying on information sharing as a way of preventing problematic borrowers from taking loans that they cannot repay.

The Problem: A slow and complex bankruptcy system

The Solution: Establishment of an effective path towards a fresh start

Today, the law in Israel recognizes bankruptcy as the only way for  debtors to start over. Despite this, Meir shows in his research that the bankruptcy process does not provide a practical solution to households that have sunk into debt. In 2007, there were over 50,000 Israelis recognized as of limited means, yet only a few thousand started the bankruptcy process. Of these, only a few hundred received bankruptcy status after five years, and this after a long and exhausting process.

According to the Taub Center study findings, based on a random sample (and calculated as an estimate for all bankruptcy cases), about a third of household bankruptcy cases are rejected, and about half were still in process five years after the first filing.

english figure1

Opening a bankruptcy file is not the beginning of the lengthy legal route for debtors who find themselves in trouble. In almost all cases, prior to bankruptcy filing there is a lengthy collections process. On average, of those who filed for bankruptcy in 2007, procedures for collections began as early as 1995 – an average time frame of about 12 years for dealing with collections on these cases. There is no doubt that this is a long and frustrating process that is not accessible as a solution for someone who is unable to pay back his debt.

The solution to this problem, according to Meir, is opening an effective route to a fresh start, based on a time-limited repayment period set in advance. This  procedure could take place within the Enforcement and Collection Authority without the involvement of the courts. In this way it would be simplified and streamlined and would be transparent to all parties. The study notes that many Western European countries have adopted a procedure of this type in the past decades and have found it an effective and successful model. In Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, for example, repayment periods are limited to five years, and in France the ceiling for repayments is being reduced from eight to seven years beginning in 2016.

In conclusion, Meir says “the existing institutional structure in Israel, its economic characteristics and the example of insolvency policies from other countries all point to moving towards a policy of cancelling debt. According to the most desirable model, declaring that a debtor is of limited means would result in a structured process, and at the end of the legally prescribed period the debtor would be absolved of his debt automatically.” Meir notes that a similar idea was brought forward in Amendment 47 to the Enforcement and Collection Law, and in the temporary order “to absolve debtors of limited means.” This legislation would advance absolving debtors for simple cases or in cases that do not justify filing for bankruptcy. Similar arrangements should be made in the civil law on a permanent basis.

 

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

 

To read the full document, click here (in Hebrew only, English coming soon)

 

 

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Itay Matityahu, Director of Marketing and Communications at 054-290-4678 or 02-567-1818.

Reforming Consumer Insolvency Policy in Israel

The sanctions imposed are severe, and the opportunities for debtors to extricate themselves from debt and to proceed with their lives are limited. In light of this, the study presents a recommendation for comprehensive reform in the credit market that will be an improvement for both debtors and the credit market.

AVAILABLE IN HEBREW ONLY – ENGLISH VERSION COMING SOON

Education and Employment Among Ethiopian Israelis

A few months ago, widespread protests among the Ethiopian-Israeli community arose, resulting from feelings of discrimination and oppression within the community. Following the protests, Taub Center researchers Hadas Fuchs and Gilad Brand examined the education and employment characteristics of this population. In order to identify trends with regard to integration, the research distinguished between Ethiopian Israelis born in Israel (or who immigrated at or before the age of 12) and those who arrived at an older age. The findings showed that young Ethiopian Israelis raised in the country are catching up to the general Jewish population, although gaps between the two groups are still evident. In general, the Ethiopian Israeli population is characterized by levels of education that are lower than those of the rest of the Jewish population. In 2012, the share of those qualifying for bagrut (matriculation certification) reached 54% among those Ethiopian Israelis who took the tests, compared to 73% among all those tested in the Jewish education system. Among those who qualified for bagrut, the share with a score high enough for acceptance to university was 56% among Ethiopian Israelis compared to 84% among the general Jewish population. The education gaps are also evident when looking at the share of academic degree holders in the population. The first figure shows that among Ethiopian Israelis who were born in Israel or who immigrated to Israel at a young age, the share of those with higher education is approximately 20%. This rate represents a substantial improvement from those Ethiopian Israelis who immigrated after age 12 (about 6%) and a higher rate than that found in the Arab Israeli sector. Nevertheless, it is still low compared to the rest of the Jewish population, where the rate is about 40%.

English figure 1

According to Fuchs and Brand’s research, educational gaps between Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian Jews manifest themselves in the labor market. 62% of Ethiopian Israelis who immigrated over the age of 12 are in occupations characterized by low skill levels, compared to 44% among the rest of the Jewish population. Only about 5% of those who immigrated to Israel at a later age are employed in occupations that require a high skill level, compared to 33% among the rest of the Jewish population (including managers). As the second figure shows, a relatively high share of Ethiopian Israelis who immigrated to Israel at a later age – about half of employed women and 17% of employed men –work as cleaning or kitchen workers. In contrast, the rate among Ethiopian Israelis educated in Israel is similar to the rate among the rest of the population (3.9%). Furthermore, the likelihood of being employed in cleaning and kitchen services is highly dependent on the number of years lived in Israel and an individual’s age of emigration from Ethiopia. As the number of years in Israel decreases and the age of immigration to Israel increases (up to age 20, after which the effect is no longer significant), the probability of working in cleaning and kitchen services is greater.

English figure 2

Examining the cohort of 30-35-year-olds shows that Ethiopian Israelis educated in Israel are better off relative to those who immigrated at a later age, even though they still lag behind the rest of the Jewish population. About 21% of Ethiopian Israelis who were educated in the country are in high-skilled occupations compared to 40% of the non-Ethiopian Jewish population. About 60% of Ethiopian Israelis educated in Israel are in low or unskilled occupations, compared to 41% among the rest of the Jewish population. One of the claims regarding the employment challenges of this population is that there exists discrimination in the labor market. It is likely, however, that the lower education level and the lack of needed skills make it difficult for Ethiopian Israelis to effectively integrate into the modern labor market. In order to further understand the effect of education, the occupational distribution of the population among those with an academic degree was examined. As shown in the third figure, among those with an academic degree, there is no substantial difference between Ethiopian Israelis and the rest of the Jewish population except for a low share of managers among Ethiopian Israelis. In other words, Ethiopian Israelis with academic degrees generally integrate effectively into those occupations requiring a higher education. Nevertheless, examining the wages of Ethiopian Israelis with an academic degree shows that although they integrate into high-level occupations, their incomes are low relative to others in the same employment category. These gaps are apparently due to the concentration of Ethiopian Israelis with higher education into occupations that pay relatively less. Specifically, many Ethiopian Israeli degree holders in high-skilled occupations work in the welfare services and teaching fields, which are relatively low-paying professions. This finding suggests that this population might have less access to academic majors that are considered more prestigious and that lead to higher wages.

English figure 3

The overall picture from the Taub Center research is positive: Ethiopian Israelis raised in Israel are substantially narrowing the wide gaps in education and employment that exist between those immigrated from Ethiopia at a later age and the general Jewish population. Nevertheless, attention should be paid to the differences between Ethiopian Israelis raised in Israel and Israelis of other origins, especially among those with higher education. As Fuchs and Brand have found, an academic degree, in and of itself, is not sufficient to narrow gaps. This finding supports the importance of modern, high-quality education (with an emphasis on access to various fields of study and prestigious employment opportunities) in ensuring proper integration into and advancement within the labor market.

Health & Healthcare–Who’s Responsible?

Individual Responsibility: “The patient must be responsible for his actions, and it is moral to demand personal responsibility”

Professor Yonatan Halevy praised the National Health Insurance Act of 1995, claiming that “the Israeli patient enjoys a long lifespan, and the data shows improvements over time. The treatment of diseases, such as diabetes and certain types of cancer, has also improved.” Regarding changes to the nature of a patient’s visit, he said “Patients now have much higher expectations due to the development of new diagnostic methods and the digital era. It won’t be long until patients are able to self-diagnose via smartphones and also compare themselves to other patients in similar situations.” Halevy noted that technological advances carry with them the good along with the bad: “We have before us innovative medications, digital accuracy, and digital tools. HMOs have also become quite advanced in the field of electronic records. However, when it comes to physician-patient relationships, we’ve seen negative developments. Doctors concentrate more on typing on their computers than on their patient.

Professor Chaim Bitterman raised two contradictory approaches to patient responsibility. The first holds that all citizens must take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing and take actions such as avoiding smoking, engaging in physical activity, and maintaining a healthy diet. On the other hand, there is the approach which suggests that citizens have almost no responsibility for their health. In Bitterman’s words, “Even with the best intentions coming from leaders in the health system, a substantial part of health is influenced by personal or environmental factors. The impact of the health system and of behavioral factors is at most 40% – the remainder is determined by one’s unique personal environment.” Bitterman also discussed the nature of Israel’s health consumer in 2015: “Healthcare consumers’ expectations of support and treatment are quite different today from what they once were. Knowledge is not only the property of the provider, but also of the patient. Patients participate in healthcare seminars and associations, and they set up tools for sharing information. Providers, then, must refresh and update their training methods to respond to the public’s thirst for information.”

The ensuing panel discussion dealt with the question of whether demands should be made on the citizen to take responsibility for his medical situation even when it involves weaker population groups. Dr. Orit Jacobson, Deputy Director General of Clalit Health Services, referred to the elderly population and said: “I was looking for a program to lower costs for treatment of the elderly but I could not find a community model. In the end, I asked the elderly how they would like to be treated. Through a parliament of the elderly in Tel Aviv, we built an intervention plan and we saw a lowering of hospitalizations and a rise in quality indicators – that is, the model worked. The Clalit Health Services later adopted the model countrywide.”

Prof. Nachman Ash raised a delicate issue: “Can we give bonuses to responsible patients and punish the others?” In his words, “We don’t like to punish victims, but sometimes there is no choice. We have already tried putting a tax on cigarettes and it is clear that this doesn’t work. Twenty percent of the population smokes, half of the citizens suffer from being overweight, and the most absurd thing is that some 50 percent of the healthcare system’s workers don’t even get the flu vaccine. The patient needs to be responsible for his actions, and it is moral to demand personal responsibility. We don’t need to be extreme and withhold treatment or humiliate the patient, but the patient needs to feel personal responsibility – particularly the weaker populations.”

Liora Bowers, Director of Policy at the Taub Center, added an international perspective to the question of personal responsibility: “As the trend in healthcare is towards growing individual responsibility, there are lessons that can be drawn from the United States, where Obama’s health reform was based on individual’s taking responsibility for their own health.”  Bowers discussed the importance of balancing the desire to place responsibility on the individual while at the same time considering the larger policy objectives.  She used the example that the government of California chose not to go forward with a popular proposal to charge smokers higher health insurance premiums than non-smokers. “Many of California’s smokers are from low socioeconomic populations, which would be further marginalized and left out of the healthcare system if they were charged higher prices for insurance; this would be counterproductive to the government’s goals to improve health and reduce disparities.”

The Responsibility of Service Providers: “The patient no longer trusts the doctor or the system”

At the beginning of the second session, Prof. Larry Brown spoke about the changes in the social contract over the past 20 years between the service provider and the patient and on the new challenges that we face: “When we stand before a patient in the system, we need to take into consideration several things beyond his health status: income, status, personal stress, and more.” Brown noted that service providers need to know that they cannot change their patients’ socioeconomic status, “but they need to understand the home and environment the patient returns to after the visit, in order to give them a comprehensive consultation.”

Prof. David Chinitz from the Hebrew University noted the historic evolution of responsibilities of the provider, from the Hippocratic Oath of “Do no harm” to the explosion of expectations today.  “Physicians today are expected to do their best to patients, to health plans, to patient populations, to global health and more.  The responsibilities are huge.”

Attorney Leah Vefner, Secretary General of the Israel Medical Association, added: “Should we just be saving money? Let’s invest it where it is most needed.” She related to the relationship between factions in the health system, and noted that “policy makers do not trust the doctors and say that they need to be supervised. This isn’t something new, but what is new is that the patient no longer trusts the doctor – or the system as a whole.”

Prof. Ran Balicer, Director of Clalit Research Institute, offered a solution to the situation: “We should only offer treatments that give results. The worst thing is overtreatment – it not only wastes money but it harms the patient. Not everything that matters can be measured, but some very important things can (and should) be measured. It is possible to use the information that the patient gives more wisely.” Balicer determined that “the system must change because it is built on ex post facto treatment. In Israel the situation is better, but there is a need to change from our current working propositions.”

Dr. Bishara Bisharat, Director, English Hospital of Nazareth and Chair of the Society for Health Promotion in the Arab Community in the Israel Medical Association, related to the role of the hospital: “The hospital should lead and influence the area like creating walking paths and serving healthy food in public places.”

The State’s Responsibility: “Just like we raise the defense budget in times of war, we should also raise the health basket as a result of increasing needs”

The third session raised a number of issues among participants. Prof. Mark Stabile suggested a new perspective to looking at the way the government should design healthcare services provided to its public. “The types of illnesses that people suffer from haven’t changes much in the past 20-30 years.” Stabile added and said “Despite its defects, ‘Obamacare’ recognizes that the healthcare system of services has changed significantly. The system relates to the fact that the population’s wishes have changed. We know that the population is aging and suffering from new diseases, and what has changed rapidly is the way of treating these problems. At the center of healthcare services should be creating solutions for the good of the public and not the needs or desires of the service providers or the government.”

Following this, MK Meir Cohen, past Minister of Welfare, related to the healthcare system in the periphery. In his words, “The true difficulty is to strengthen the periphery in order to create true equality with the cities of the central region. It is not reasonable that hospitals in the periphery rely on philanthropy; this is the role of the state.” Cohen determined that “there is money in the ministry; it is simply a question of priorities.”

Moshe Bar Siman Tov said that the ministry is using a strategy that includes strengthening the foundations and the status of doctors in Israel, budgeting the system, strengthening public medicine, encouraging healthy life styles, transparency, and dealing with future challenges. In this context, Bar Siman Tov noted that “changes are very rapid, especially demographic. Israel is one of the youngest countries in the world, and is also aging quickly, and that requires preparation in terms of hospital beds, long-term hospitalization and geriatric beds.” In his words, “we want to put the patient at the center and strengthen the socio-cultural connection.”

Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef tried to sharpen the definition of the healthcare that Israeli’s are entitled to: “It’s important that the state defines what healthcare services citizens should get, and that everyone – rich and poor – receives those benefits.  Because if you only give the poor certain benefits, than no one is there to defend the poor when someone tries to take those away.” With regard to personal responsibility Mor-Yosef added: “I am against punishment. I believe in creating incentives in terms of regulation and prices. If you want people to eat healthy, then it can’t be that healthy food costs the most. By the way, this is also the state’s responsibility.”

Prof. Dov Chernichovsky, senior researcher and Chair of the Taub Center Health Policy Program, raised some controversial ideas in his presentation, suggesting that the argument in favor of universal healthcare provided by the state is eroding with the increasing shift towards chronic diseases which depend on lifestyle.  He predicted that states will move away from providing a guaranteed basket of full health services, to a basket that meets only the minimum needs and is focused on catastrophic coverage.  In general, Chernichovsky explained that “inevitably, we will see a decrease in involvement and funding of healthcare by the state over time.  Nonetheless, the state must continue to protect the interests of certain groups – such as the young and those in the periphery, ensure oversight of medical technology prices, and be more involved in old-age and nursing care.”

Iris Ginsburg, an economist and member of the Health Basket Committee, summarized the discussion, and said: “Without some forethought about a new direction, the coverage of the state in the area of health is likely to change to resemble that of the area of welfare. The National Health Insurance Law provides a decent basket of services, and it apparently does not justify the private expenditure on health that amounts to 40% of the funding. When the individual continues to increase his expenditure in parallel with technological developments, this will create inequality in life expectancies and a split between two groups of the population.”

Made in Israel: Characteristics of the Israeli Food Market

From the cottage cheese and “Milky” chocolate pudding protests to the recent international comparisons of “Pesek Zman” chocolate bar prices, it seems that the price of food in Israel has caught the public’s attention. As such, in last year’s State of the Nation Report 2014, the Taub Center published worrisome findings on price trends in Israel as compared to the OECD. In 2005, most food items were much cheaper in Israel than in the OECD, while by 2011, the picture had reversed itself. For instance, meat and chicken, which were 8 percent cheaper, became an average of 21 percent more expensive in Israel than in the OECD; milk products, which were only 6 percent more expensive, became 51 percent more expensive.

As the analysis of Taub Center researcher Eitan Regev shows in the Picture of the Nation 2015, one of the reasons for the drastic increase in food prices is the structure of the food market in Israel. The food industry is very centralized, and this lack of competition allows manufacturers to charge high prices on many food items.

In addition to little local competition, there is also not much competition in terms of imported foods; the rate of food imports lags far behind imports in other sectors. As the first figure shows, in many of the private import sectors, the import rate increased greatly over the past two decades. For instance, imports of shoes rose from 42 percent in 1996 to 80 percent in 2011, and in the area of cosmetics, imports rose from 35 percent to 58 percent. Overall, expenditure on imported goods in 2011 stood at 70 percent – an increase of 17 percentage points from 1996. In contrast, in the food sector, the import rate was only 15 percent in 2011 – a rate that is remarkably low in relation to other sectors, and which has changed little since 1996.

Eng figure 1

Exposure to imports brings more competition to local industry and applies pressure to bring prices down and raise efficiency. Likewise, low import rates are likely to allow prices to remain high. The second figure shows the importance of imports in setting prices in various sectors. In sectors where the import rates are high, like furnishings and home goods, prices dropped substantially. The index of food prices, on the other hand, rose during the same period by 53 percent – much more than the rise in the Consumer Price Index which stood at 32 percent.

Eng figure 2

According to Regev, there are many reasons why the import share in the food sector has remained low, beginning with the requirements of kashrut and health regulations as well as protective tariffs that are intended to protect local industry. As the third figure shows, though, there is no uniformity among import rates in the various food categories. In the main category for food expenditure (meat, milk products, and bread and grains) import rates are very low. In contrast, in those categories where the general expenditure is lower (like fish, sugar and alcoholic beverages), import rates are higher. The significance of this is that in the smaller areas of the food industry, imports are more substantial, while in those areas with greater demand, there is almost no importing taking place. This hints at the possible pressure placed on policy makers by larger interest groups.

Eng figure 3

Low import rates also seemed to serve an important role in the rapid increase in prices. In light of this, Regev notes that opening the food market is an important step whose time has come which will considerably cheapen expenditure on food, a central component to the high cost of living in Israel. One possibility in this direction is to lower protective tariffs paid by importers; first steps in this area are, in fact, taking place (like opening the market to imported hard cheeses). Nevertheless, to lower food prices significantly, bureaucracy and regulation of imports will have to change even if this step arouses the opposition of powerful interest groups in the marketplace.

 

 

The Ministry of Education Budget 2000-2014: Trends and Issues

Differences between these budgets make planning extremely difficult and point to a lack of transparency in the planning and budgeting process. The main difficulties are in understanding the rationale for the frequent and large budget changes throughout the year. To some extent, these changes serve to turn the budget approved by the Knesset into a meaningless document.

Arab Israeli Pharmacists in the Israeli Labor Market

To read the full document, click here (in Hebrew only)

A new study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel shows that Arab Israeli pharmacists integrate well into the Israeli labor market, although they have more difficulties than their Jewish counterparts. The researchers recommend policy steps that will help narrow the gaps between them and Jewish pharmacists

Study findings:

  • Since 2005, more than one-third of all licensed pharmacists (Jews and Arab Israelis) hold academic degrees from Jordan.
  • In the study sample, there are large wage differences between female Jewish pharmacists and their Arab Israeli counterparts, apparently due to differences in seniority and management level. All of the female Arab Israeli pharmacists who were interviewed earned less than NIS 10,000 per month, compared to only 40% of their Jewish counterparts. In contrast, among male pharmacists in this study, there was almost no difference between wages of Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists.
  • Work relations and daily interactions between Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists are described as positive and even lead to social connections and the lessening of prejudices.
  • It takes a considerably longer time, on average, for Arab Israeli pharmacists to find an internship than their Jewish counterparts, especially for those who studied abroad.

A new study conducted by Prof. Noah Lewin-Epstein, Prof. Alexandra Kalev, Erez Marantz, and Shimrit Slonim for the Taub Center attempts to examine how educated Arab Israelis integrate into the Israeli labor market. To do this, the research focused on the pharmacy field, where there has been an influx of Arab Israelis over the past decade – many of whom work in businesses owned and managed by Jews. The researchers pointed to the advantages of equal integration of educated Arab Israelis into the labor market and among them, the considerable contribution to the development of the Israeli economy and increasing interactions between Arab Israelis and Jews, which can reduce prejudices and may serve to reduce feelings of hostility. At the same time, the research also showed that the path of professional integration for Arab Israelis also includes several challenges – beginning with the internship stage and extending to limited opportunities for advancement. The authors suggest several policy steps to overcome the difficulties identified.

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The Taub Center study consists of in-depth interviews with pharmacists, managers and owners of pharmacies, and the quotes are taken from these interviews (all names are pseudonyms to protect the anonymity of the participants).

Arab Israeli Pharmacists: Study Abroad, Work in Israel

By 2000, about 20% of pharmacists in Israel were Arab Israelis, a rate that is somewhat higher than their share in the overall adult population. Between 2000 and 2010, along with the overall growth of this field, there was an influx of Arab Israelis, raising their rate to almost a third of those employed in this profession.

A key factor in the demographic shift in the composition of pharmacists in Israel relates to the changes in higher education opportunities among the Arab Israeli population. Following the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994, Arab Israelis found the door open to enter institutions of higher education in Jordan. Several groups took advantage of this opportunity: those who did not take the psychometric exams in Israel; those who could not meet the university entrance requirements; or especially women, who preferred studying in an environment matching their life style. These foreign graduates then returned to integrate into the Israeli labor market. In fact, more than one-third of the licenses issued since 2005 (for Jews and Arab Israelis) were to graduates of Jordanian institutions.

Integration of Arab Israelis Pharmacists: Difficulties Finding Internships, Fewer Opportunities for Advancement

Internships

The Taub Center study examined the integration of the interviewed pharmacists into the labor market at all the stages of the career path. The findings show an essential difference between Jews and Arab Israelis in their entrance into the labor market, specifically in their search for internships. Among Jewish graduates, finding an intern position is a relatively short process and the majority secure a position before they even graduate. As Odelia said: “I didn’t look for an internship because I already worked here as a pharmacist’s assistant; it was clear that I would do my internship here. I made sure I had an intern spot for later.”

For Arab Israeli graduates, though, it can be quite difficult to find an internship, and the search can take anywhere from one month to as long as two years. The process is especially difficult for graduates of Jordanian universities for several reasons. First, they cannot gain experience during their studies by being a pharmacist’s assistant, which paves the way to an internship. Another reason is that many Jewish employers are concerned about the quality and level of pharmacy studies in Jordan. These difficulties lead Arab Israeli pharmacy graduates to compromise on their internship placement, oftentimes to begin working for no pay (which is illegal), or even to work as an assistant- a position that is usually reserved for students.

As Nadim (an Arab interviewee who graduated from a Jordanian institution) explained, “The hardest part was finding an internship. It was nearly impossible. In the end, I did my internship in Eilat. I moved from the north to Eilat.”

Entrance into the Labor Market

According to the Taub Center study, the job search is also much longer for Arab Israeli pharmacists than it is for Jewish pharmacists, although it is considerably shorter than the search for an internship. The main reason for this, as explained in the interviews, is that Arab Israeli pharmacists tend to stay on in their place of employment after the internship ends. In contrast, Jewish pharmacists tend to switch their place of employment after their full accreditation. Of those interviewed, only 8% of the Jewish pharmacists continued to full employment where they interned, compared to 33% of the Arab Israelis.

Representation in Management

As Lewin-Epstein, Kalev, Maratz and Slonim note, despite their high level of representation in the profession, Arab Israelis are underrepresented in management positions. Of those interviewed, 47% of the female Jewish pharmacists had management roles, while no female Arab Israelis were in these positions. Among men, 27% of Arab Israeli pharmacists held management positions, as opposed to 62% of male Jewish pharmacists. This can be partly explained by the fact that among those interviewed, the Arab Israelis were, on the whole, younger than their Jewish counterparts and so had not yet had enough time to be promoted to management positions.

According to the interviewees, Arab Israeli pharmacists are advanced equally to management positions within the pharmacies. When looking at more senior positions involving decision making or regional management, though, those interviewed felt that there are almost no Arab Israelis in those positions. As Sayid said, “There is nowhere in the medical field (pharmacy field) in Israel, whether the organization is a chain or an institution, where the manager is an Arab Israeli. It just doesn’t happen.” There is also a feeling of discrimination regarding employment by large pharmaceutical companies. According to those interviewed, pharmaceutical companies make army service a requirement for hiring and thereby effectively exclude Arab Israelis.

English figure 3 (but figure 2)

Wages

As can be seen in the table, wage differences between male pharmacists are negligible. Nevertheless, it does appear that male Arab Israeli pharmacists work more hours or shifts to get to the wage level of their Jewish counterparts. As Yehuda, a Jewish pharmacy owner, noted: “They (the Arab Israeli pharmacists) want to work all the time; it doesn’t bother them. They will even work 18 hours.” Moreover, there are pharmacists and employers who noted that there are certain pharmacies that pay Arab Israeli pharmacists less and see them as a “cheap labor source.”

The Taub Center study highlights that among female pharmacists, differences are substantially greater in pay between Jews and Arab Israelis. It is highly likely that the differences seen were due to professional seniority since the majority of female Arab Israeli pharmacists only entered the profession in the last few years. As noted, the research sample did not include any female Arab Israeli pharmacists in management positions, that is, the sample did not include those at higher wage levels.

English figure 2

The Personal Side: “In the end, we all work together and we all do the work”

Overall, the personal relations and day-to-day interactions between Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists were characterized as positive, and even as an educational experience for the Jewish pharmacists who encountered the opportunity to get to know Arab Israelis. Varda, a Jewish manager, told of her attitude change: “I said to my mother: ‘Look, they are good. Simply good. They do good work and they are good people.’”

In general, from the interviews certain ethnic issues came up, like dealing with dress habits or the use of Arabic between colleagues at work. The big picture, though, is encouraging to some extent since it indicates a level of collegiality and cooperation on the basis of professionalism. Furthermore, the direct contact at work between Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists leads them to get to know and respect one another.

In contrast to professional relations on the job which are for the most part characterized as positive, tensions between Jewish customers and Arab Israeli pharmacists are more common. From the interviews, it appears that customer dissatisfaction is often expressed in terms of the pharmacists’ ethnic group. As many of those interviewed said: “When you are arguing with someone and you don’t want to give them something because there is a problem, the customer will suddenly say, ‘No, you don’t want to give it to me because you are an Arab.” According to the study, the most important thing in these types of cases is how the system responds; many times pharmacists do not have the full support of their employer, and the customer service policy is sometimes perceived as requiring the acceptance of prejudice.

Another systemic problem that needs to be addressed is the issue of Muslim holidays. In most cases, pharmacists say that their needs are taken into consideration by employers and colleagues. It seems, though, that there is no organized policy surrounding this issue, and those who cannot find someone to take their shift must work even on their religious holidays.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Encourage the employment of Jordanian graduates

As has been said, some employers are reluctant to give internship positions to Jordanian graduates, either out of fear that the quality of their training is lower or because graduates are not familiar with the local labor market. To remove these obstacles, the researchers recommend that the state run special training programs for these graduates to acquaint them with the local pharmaceutical market, and also to act as a bridge between employers looking for interns and Arab graduates. The authors of the Taub Center study also recommend that the state subsidize internships, especially for honors students from Jordan. These steps serve not only the Jordanian graduates but also the state, which has not opened additional pharmacy schools due to its reliance on foreign graduates.

  1. Protecting employee rights
  2. Religious and religious-holiday rights – public policy can act to protect and enforce religious rights of workers. One step is to raise employee awareness of their rights to vacation days on religious holidays and overtime pay for working on holidays, as set in law. The researchers recommend developing policies that take into consideration the difficulties of the month of Ramadan, and that requires an employer to take steps like ensuring certain work days with shifts that allow for the fast and also allow longer breaks for food, with pay, for those who consent to work the evening shifts.
  3. Abuse by customers – thegovernment is currently considering a law against abuse at work that requires the employer “to deal efficiently with cases of abuse in work relations that come to the employer’s attention, as well as to try to prevent a recurrence of abuse and repair any damage caused following such abuse.” Advancing this law, as well as raising awareness among pharmacists and their employers is crucial and will help create a safe environment that can help limit the damage of such experiences.

Publication of this press release and the material it is based on are under embargo until Monday, August 24, 7:00

To read the full document, click here (in Hebrew only)

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Itay Matityahu, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-290-4678.

Integration of Arab Israeli Pharmacists into the Labor Market

This policy paper attempts to examine the mechanisms that both facilitate and hinder the employment of educated Arab Israelis by Jewish employers. The study focuses specifically on pharmacists. The past decade has seen a growth in the number of Arab Israelis entering this profession – a large share of whom are employed in businesses that are owned or managed by Jews. On the basis of in-depth interviews with Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists and with the managers of pharmacies, the paper compares their work experiences along their career paths, as well as their perceptions of differences between the groups. The study points to the complexities of the professional integration process for Arab Israelis. On the one hand, the opening of higher education opportunities in Jordan –  which helps Arab Israelis overcome rigorous entrance requirements to study pharmacy in Israel – allows Arab Israelis to gain a professional education. There has also been a rise in the willingness of Jewish employers to hire them. On the other hand, studying in Jordan is less respected among Jewish employers than studying in Israel, and this makes it harder for Arab Israelis to find internships and employment. In addition, many employers are hesitant to hire them due to their lack of experience in the local market. In light of this, seeking internships and employment takes longer for Arab Israeli pharmacists than for their Jewish counterparts, and many find that they have to compromise on their place of employment and salary. These difficulties are intensified due to the lack of professional contacts, although Arab Israeli pharmacists who have studied in Israel also experience difficulties in finding internships and employment. In addition, those interviewed report instances of discrimination. For instance, candidates who wear a hijab reported prejudice on the part of Jewish customers, and difficulties stemming from a lack of an organizational policy that recognizes their culture and religion. The study also found that working together contributes to a positive change of attitudes by Jews towards Arab Israelis. In light of the findings, the paper recommends policy steps that can contribute to the integration of Arab Israelis into the pharmacist job market, such as specialized training and consideration for Muslim holidays.

Agency Workers in Israel: A Deeper Look

Embargo until 7:00 03/08/15

The study distinguishes between two types of agency workers – those from employment agencies and contract service workers – and demonstrates that while employees of employment agencies can benefit from this mode of employment, contract service workers are a weaker, more vulnerable group whose legal rights need to be improved.

Study findings:

  • The share of new immigrants among contract service workers, a particularly weak group who generally suffer from poor working conditions, declined slightly between 2000 and 2011 although at the end of this period, it still remained high (61.5%). In contrast, during the same period, the share of new immigrants among all employed persons decreased from 41% to 32.3%.
  • The proportion of contract service workers employed full-time was 53.7%, a percentage that is significantly lower than the overall rate among workers; 35% of them would want to increase their work hours but are unable to do so.
  • The share of women who are contract service agency workers has declined since the beginning of the decade, although in 2011 it was still higher than the percent of females among all employees (57.4% versus 45.4% respectively).
  • The number of contract service workers doubled from 2000 to 2011, while the number of employment agency workers, who are generally a stronger group, declined by about 50%.

In the past few weeks, the subject of agency workers has again risen to the top of the public agenda, with major complaints about this employment method and the corresponding conditions of this group of workers. A new study by Dr. Noam Gruber, which will be published in the Taub Center’s upcoming annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2015, presents important research findings that shed new light on the subject. The study negates the claim that the number of agency workers in Israel is higher than in the rest of the world, and shows that the reason for this conjecture is that the term “agency worker” has become a catch-all for temporary workers of all sorts (whether directly or indirectly employed). In Gruber’s words, “This lack of clarity, which is only made worse by the dearth of organized research findings, makes it difficult to estimate the scope of the phenomenon in Israel and compare with the rest of the world, and leads to exaggerations and inaccuracies.”

What is the rate of contract service workers in Israel? It depends on who you ask.

Around the world, it is generally accepted that there are two types of temporary workers: those hired through an employment agency who work under the supervision of the client, and workers who are outsourced (or subcontracted), a method whereby the client buys the service but does not directly supervise the workers. For example, if a company employs a programmer through an employment agency, and the company is responsible for supervising the programmer’s work, then the programmer is considered an employment agency worker. In contrast, if a company pays an outside agency for programming work and as a part of the service the programmer works in-house, while paid and supervised by the outside agency, then the programmer is considered a contract service worker. As the Taub Center research shows, in Israel both types of workers are generally referred to as “agency workers,” although there are substantial differences between the type of work and employment conditions. This is the source of the exaggerated estimates of the number of agency workers in Israel as compared to other countries, because outside of Israel, the numbers refer primarily to employment agency workers. Moreover, the employment agency law in Israel defines “service contractors” as those who provide services in the areas of security, guards and cleaning.

English figure 1

In order to make a valid comparison, using OECD data, Gruber compared the employment rate only through employment agencies in Israel and elsewhere. As can be seen in the first figure, when just employment agency workers are examined (“Israel 1” in the figure), their rate out of all employed persons is relatively low – about 0.8%. According to the study, the reason for higher, exaggerated estimates is that the number of nursing care workers are added in to the rate (“Israel 2” in the figure) as well as security and cleaning workers (“Israel 3”), even though they are classified as contract service workers and their characteristics are not similar to employment agency workers.

Characteristics of agency workers: more women and immigrants, fewer work hours

The Taub Center study shows that the distinction between employment agency workers and contract service workers conceals essential differences in the socioeconomic profile of workers. Firstly, the two groups are distinguished by the age of the workers. In general, employment agency workers are relatively young in comparison to workers overall. In 2011, the median age among all employed persons was 39, while the median age of employment agency workers was 33. The median age of contract service workers, on the other hand, was 46. Moreover, the share of students working as contract service workers in 2000-2011 (7.9%) was lower than their share among all  employed persons (9.2%), while their representation among employment agency workers was substantially higher (11.9%).

English figure 2

The research suggests that employment through employment agencies allows younger workers to gain experience in the labor market and is a pathway to long-term employment. According to data from Ciett, the international confederation of private employment agencies, 68% of employment agency workers were unemployed prior to this employment, while only 32% were unemployed after their stint as agency workers. Gruber says, “One could claim that the employment experience and the flexibility of this type of work are useful to both employer and employee, and in the more rigid labor market this type of employment fills a serious need.”

English figure 3

Another characteristic of agency workers is the relatively high rate of female employees. The figure shows that the share of women among all employed persons is on the rise (45% in 2000 and 47% in 2011). Among agency workers, the rate of women workers has actually declined since the previous decade, although it is still higher than among all employed persons, especially among contract service workers (57.4%).

The share of immigrants is also relatively high among agency workers. Between 2000 and 2011, the rate of employed persons among immigrants dropped from 41% to 32.3%. The rate of their employment in employment agencies also was in decline, although it remained higher than their overall rate of employment: 42.8% in 2011. Among contract service workers, the rate of new immigrants is particularly high and its decline is much more modest; in 2000, the rate was 65.4%, and in 2011, it fell to 61.4% – a rate that is double their representation among all employed persons.

English figure 4

The Taub Center study also highlights that an additional characteristic of agency workers is that they generally work in part-time positions. The findings show that a large number of them would like to work more hours, but were unable to find additional work. This rate is 35.2% among employment agency workers, 25% among contract service workers and 21.4% of non-agency workers.

Policy recommendations: encourage employment agency employment, and require transparency from contract services

In light of the Taub Center findings, Gruber says, “The two groups of agency workers in Israel – employment agency workers and contract service workers – have substantially different characteristics and require different policy steps. Employment agency workers are, in general, a younger group made up of a relatively high proportion of students. Relative to contract service workers, they are closer to the general employed population in terms of education level, the rates of women and immigrants, and their number of work hours. In the past few years, following legislation that limited employment through employment agencies to 9 months, there has been a significant drop in their numbers: from 57,000 in 2000, to 23,000 in 2011. This is an important employment channel that provides flexibility in manpower management for employers, and allows young people to accrue experience in the labor market and to earn a living while they are pursuing their studies. In light of this, lengthening the permitted employment period through an employment agency should be considered to allow these workers, particularly students, employment continuity and the chance to gain more work experience.”

“In contrast,” adds Gruber, “when referring to contract service workers, the situation is very different. Unlike employment agency workers, their numbers have risen over the years: from about 75,000 in 2000 to about 124,000 in 2011. This is generally an older and weaker group of workers, who in most cases do not have the ability to unionize and stand up for their rights.” In order to protect their legal rights, Gruber suggests requiring transparency: “Every service contractor will be required to submit both to the worker and to the client a monthly report that shows all payments to the worker alongside the payments made by the client. The client will share the responsibility  for legally paying the agency workers (and cannot use the service contractor as a buffer against claims of employment law violations), and all parties will understand the agent’s fees and will be able to evaluate whether it is worthwhile or whether it is preferable to employ the worker directly.”

English figure 5

The Taub Center study also warns against taking populist steps that are likely to cause more harm to the workers: “If a law requiring public agencies to hire contract service workers as permanent employees is implemented, it is reasonable to assume that many of these workers will end up unemployed, as their employment will not pay off for the employer.”

In addition to these steps, Gruber recommends the following:

‒      Improve legislation in the area of agency workers, and have systematic data collection: currently there are differences in the treatment of non-profit workers and the various employment agency workers, according to their area of work. The law should be amended such that the classification of “service contractor” includes everyone who gives service through an agency in any area – and not just in the areas of guarding, security and cleaning work. Likewise, in order to improve the available information, the Taub Center study recommends widening the classification for agency workers in the Central Bureau of Statistics’ surveys.

‒      Improve flexibility in the labor market: in many cases, especially in the public sector, direct employment would be preferable  to employment through a contractor both for the employer and the employee, and the biggest obstacle is the requirement to offer a tenured position to employees. The situation is created where permanent employees are unionized while temporary workers have few rights. Gruber notes that “if we wish to lessen the harm to weaker employees, employment terms in the labor market must be made more flexible, especially in the public sector, and the rights of agency workers must be enforced, particularly those of the contract service workers.”

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Itay Matityahu, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-290-4678.

Do the Math: The connection between math bagrut units of study and salary levels

Math is seen by many as the most important subject that is learned for the bagrut (matriculation) exams, although it has the reputation of being both difficult and intimidating. Over the past decade, there has been a substantial drop in the number of pupils who choose to take the math bagrut exams at the higher 4 or 5 level (although in the past year there was a slight rise in these rates). The Ministry of Education has decided to start a national campaign to increase the rate of those studying math at the higher levels. Does learning high level math have any importance later in life for these pupils?

In order to answer this question, Prof. Ayal Kimhi and Arik Horovitz, in a study for the Taub Center (funded jointly by the Trump Foundation) checked to see the influence of higher level math study on labor force achievement and in particular, its impact on wages. The special data base that was built for the purposes of this study allowed the researchers to track a sample of examinees from their bagrut tests, through higher education, if they continued onto it – and if so, in what major – and into the characteristics of their early career choices (through age 29).

Not surprisingly, the research found that pupils who studied the highest level of math continued on to academic studies at a higher rate than those who studied at a lower level math or who did not take the math bagrut exam at all (90% of those who studied 5 units continued on to academic studies compared to 76% of those who took 4 units, 50% of those who took 3 units, and just 16% of those who did not take the math bagrut exam). A correlation was also found between the number of math units studied and the academic major. Those who took the bagrut at 5 units tended to enter the sciences like computer science, engineering and the exact sciences while a higher rate of those who studied at the 3 or 4 unit level went into the humanities, arts and social sciences.

This could explain the findings shown in the first figure. As the number of math bagrut units increases, occupational status tends to be more prestigious. The rate of those with an academic occupation rose gradually from 4% among examinees who studied 3 units or less to 49% among those who studied 5 units. In addition, the rate of those employed as associate professionals and technicians among those who studied at at least the 3 unit level was double the number of those who studied at a lower level or who did not take the math bagrut exam at all. In contrast, the number of skilled workers, who on average earn much less than associate professionals and technicians, is much lower among those who studied at least 3 units of math.

Eng Figure 1

According to the Taub Center study, math study also has a substantial influence on the wage level within an occupation group. The findings presented in the table show clearly that pupils who took higher level math for their bagrut exams earned higher wages than those taking 3 units or less or who did not take the exam, even when they later were in the same occupation group. For example, agents and sales and service workers who took 3 units earned on average NIS 50 per hour while those who took 5 units earned NIS 74 per hour.

Eng figure 2

In addition, the study found that as the level of math increases, income in the labor market also increases. Nevertheless, in regression analyses that controlled for other variables that are likely to influence salary (like field of study and industry branch, socioeconomic variables and other bagrut scores, which are indicative of cognitive and learning abilities) it was found that the direct influence of level of math study on wages weakens as more variables are added – although it still reaches almost 10%.

In order to measure more accurately the impact of math study on wages, several hypothetical scenarios were examined. In the first, the level of math study of those who studied 4 units was increased to 5 units. The result of this hypothetical scenario showed that, by raising the level of math study, hourly wage rose by 8%. The direct effect of level of math study was 5% while the indirect effect (that is, the effect by way of the academic major selected) was 3%. The results differ somewhat for men and women; the move from 4 to 5 units increased wages of men by an average of 5% and the wages of women by an average of 13%.

In the second scenario, math study was increased from 4 to 5 units but the math score was reduced by 20 points; that means that hypothetically, if at 4 units of study the score was 90, at 5 units of study the score was reduced to 70. Results of this analysis showed that the lower score decreases the positive influence of the higher level of math on wages, although it does not negate it completely – the average increase in wages in this case is 7% (as opposed to 8% in the previous scenario). In this scenario as well, the influence was greater for women than for men.

The main conclusion from the Taub Center study is that the level of math study has a great deal of importance for income, and the academic major plays a critical role in this. Studying math at a higher level allows pupils to enter academic majors that are considered prestigious like engineering and computer sciences and in turn, these studies help them find quality employment and earn higher wages. As the results show, the influence is particularly high among women.

According to the researchers, in order to encourage more pupils to reach the higher levels of math (5 units), math study has to be made more attractive and the quality of teaching has to be improved. In addition, they recommended increasing the understanding of the importance of learning math among pupils and their parents. The implementation of these findings could increase the number of pupils taking higher level math and in this way, benefit pupils by enabling them to reach higher labor force achievements. The academic and high-tech fields would also benefit from a skilled and talented labor force, and ultimately, this would benefit the country as a whole.

Mental Health Reform: Pitfalls and Prospects

To read the full document, click here

Study findings:

  • From 1995 until 2013, the mental health system has “lost” NIS 1.8 billion – the difference between the budget that the system would have received if the previous reforms had been implemented on time and what it actually received.
  • The budget for community rehabilitation for the mentally disabled soared from 2% to 25% of the overall government budget for mental health. As such, the percentage of the total mental health budget comprised of inpatient psychiatric care fell from 80% in 1999 to 59% in 2013.
  • Despite the reform’s plans to expand services within the community, the governmental budget for mental health clinics fell by 40% between 1999 and 2007.
  • Since 1996, the rate of full psychiatric hospitalizations has fallen: from 1.15 hospitalizations per 1,000 persons in 1996 to 0.5 in 2013.

 

In July 2015, a new mental health reform went into effect in Israel. This reform, which shifts responsibility for the insurance and treatment of inpatient and ambulatory mental health services to the health care funds (HMOs), signals a meaningful change in mental healthcare services in Israel. Research by Prof. Uri Aviram, a Taub Center for Social Policy Studies Policy Program Fellow and former head of the Israel National Council for the Rehabilitation in the Community of Persons with Mental Disabilities, and Sagit Azary-Viesel, takes an in-depth look at the mental health system prior to the reform and the circumstances leading to its implementation, and points out critical points to ensure the reform’s success.

The Mental Health System Prior to the Reform

There was a substantial decline in psychiatric hospitalizations, that is, more patients were being treated in the community – although outpatient care budgets saw no commensurate increase. 

The reform integrates mental health services into the overall health system, and aims to apply the system’s principles of justice, equity and mutual care to the mental health services as well. One of the foundational principles of the reform is to move the locus of care from psychiatric hospitalization, which often removes the patient from the community and possibility of leading a fulfilling life, to community-based rehabilitation services.

Eng Fig 1

According to the Taub Center study, following the previous mental health reform there was a decline over the years in the rate of full psychiatric hospitalizations – from 1.15 hospitalizations per 1,000 persons in 1996 to 0.5 in 2013. The length of hospitalizations was also shortened, and overall annual psychiatric inpatient care days declined significantly.

In parallel with the decline in inpatient care numbers, there was a substantial increase in the number of those treated within the community. While the budgets of the psychiatric hospitals did not change over the period, the relative portion of inpatient psychiatric care from the overall government budget for mental health care declined from 80% to 59%, since the budget for rehabilitation services rose sharply: from only 2% in 1999 to 25% in 2013. Despite the intentions of lawmakers to strengthen ambulatory care, the budget designated for clinics in the period preceding the reform was reduced from 13% to 9% of the government mental health budget – a move that negatively impacted the availability and accessibility of clinics, and an issue that should improve with implementation of the newest reform.

Eng Fig 2

Implementing the Reform

The effort to initiate foundational reform in mental health services and to shift responsibility from an inpatient-based service to the community-based health funds has been ongoing for close to four decades. The current reform is the fifth attempt to change the system.

In Aviram’s estimation, the past failures prevented the mental health system from receiving a larger budget; from 1995 to 2013, the mental health system lost NIS 1.8 billion – the difference between what the system would have received if its budget had been updated along with the health funds’ budgets, and the budget that it actually received as part of the government system.

Eng Fig 3

In order to ensure the reform’s success where the previous attempts failed, the Taub Center study highlights 18 main points that decision makers must bear in mind. According to Prof. Aviram, “When the reform decision was made, there were many questions left unanswered or with lingering differences of opinion. The decision was made to forge ahead and deal with issues as they arose. The decision was appropriate, because it is doubtful that the reform would have happened otherwise.”

Points for the Reform’s Success

A re-examination of the target population

One of the aims of the reform is to double the rate of those receiving mental health care in clinics to 4% of adults and 2% of children. Those in the health funds consider this estimate too low and unequal; in some city centers and among more well-off populations, the rates are higher than this target already, while in other places, primarily in the geographic periphery and among specific population groups, like Haredim and Arab Israelis, the rates are far from this target. According to Aviram, it is imperative to identify how realistic these targets are.

A clear definition of the law’s requirement to provide services “within a reasonable time and at a reasonable distance”

One of the demands made of the health funds was to provide those in need of treatment with mental health services within a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable distance from their home. This flexible delineation has been the subject of a great deal of criticism, including in the State Ombudsman’s 2015 report. The absence of a clear definition of these terms is very serious for the psychiatric population, generally considered particularly disadvantaged and suffering, in addition to their disabilities, from issues of stigma and social marginalization. Reform advocates must pay close attention to this subject and should define these concepts more clearly, as was done in the dental health care law.

Setting the length of treatment and its nature

There is a lack of agreement regarding the length of treatment in the framework of the reform, which sets nine visits for an adult and twelve visits for a child, and whether this defined treatment period is sufficient to meet patients’ needs. There is also a difference of opinions regarding who should be responsible for determining the length of treatment.

Private healthcare

The reform includes an option for privately funded mental health services. While the fee is regulated, it is nonetheless significantly higher than the copayment in public healthcare clinics. This fact raises concerns that a two-tier system will develop where those who can afford to pay will buy private care, and this will lead to differences in the quality of therapists and treatment in the public and private systems. There is no doubt that this situation goes against the principles of the reform, and it is important to track developments and prevent the growth of special, higher-quality mental health services only for those of means.

Family physician involvement in mental healthcare services

One of the underlying ideas of the reform was to connect family physicians to the mental healthcare services. Many in the field, however, feel that family doctors are not ready or able to take on this added responsibility. In their words, they do not have enough knowledge, there is not enough time to train them for this, and they are not given enough time per patient to deal effectively with the needs of those suffering from mental illness. The reform was set in motion without the full cooperation of family doctors, and they claim that their professional union was not engaged, either. Moreover, during the deliberations on the reform, the psychiatric internship requirement was removed for doctors specializing in family medicine. In light of this, it is very possible that connecting family medicine could be problematic since the involvement of family physicians in the mental health system was an important part of the reform plans and goals.

Privacy issues

In light of the structural changes involved in the reform, there is a question regarding the transfer of information. There is a need to pass patient information to the new authority, while at the same time ensuring the patients’ right to privacy. The director-general of the Ministry of Health has recently decided that it is not possible to get patient permission and that the information should be transferred to the health funds unless the patient specifically objects (and since the mechanism is not yet finalized, it is not even clear if the patient will be asked).

Hospitalization alternatives and conflicts of interest

It is reasonable to assume that the health funds and other agencies will try to find and develop alternatives to hospitalization, out of the desire to keep patients in a less restrictive environment (needs permitting), as well as out of a desire to cut costs. Alternatives could include clinics as well as outpatient departments in psychiatric hospitals in the community. However, the Taub Center study showed that in the past decades, no new clinics or psychiatric hospital outpatient departments were opened and, to date, no government-funded psychiatric hospitals have been closed. As such, there is no way of knowing how the State will act – particularly in light of the conflict of interest, since the majority of hospitalization and community rehabilitation services remain in the hands of the government and under the authority of the Ministry of Health. It is unclear how this will be resolved. What will happen, for instance, if the Ministry of Health, as the owner of a psychiatric hospital, wants to maintain its level of activity while the health funds are seeking to curb inpatient referrals and find alternatives?

In summary, Prof. Aviram says: “In order to support the reform’s implementation in line with its original goals, it is imperative to gather those social and political agents for whom this reform is most important and to create a social-political lobby to work for this. In addition, within the Ministry of Health there needs to be a supervisory agency to oversee the reform’s implementation, to strengthen the existing regulatory bodies that were created for this purpose, to respond appropriately to the issues that arise during the implementation phase, and to encourage unbiased evaluation of the reform’s results and achievements.

“This is important because financial resources will be allocated to research and evaluation of the reform – which should not be forced to compete with other demands on funding – and the administrative mechanism that will be created will have enforcement authority. If these two things don’t happen simultaneously, and if the leadership of the Ministry of Health doesn’t give the political and administrative support to the reform’s implementation, it is doubtful whether this reform will meet its goals.”

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Itay Matityahu, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-290-4678.

To read the full document, click here

Mental Health Reform: Pitfalls and Prospects

This reform, which shifts responsibility for inpatient and ambulatory mental healthcare services to the health funds (HMOs), involves a significant change in mental health services in Israel. This paper examines the possibilities and the pitfalls that are connected with the implementation of the reform. It analyzes the issues facing those instituting the reform and the State, issues which remained unanswered or undecided at the time of the decision to implement the reform and will now have to be addressed. For example, it must be determined whether the targets set for the optimal number of patients in treatment is satisfactory, that the distribution of services is equitable, and that adequate community-based alternatives to inpatient treatment are developed and will be able to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations. In summary, the paper lays out recommendations for responding to these issues, as well as others that might arise in the implementation of the reform, including: administrative and financial resource allocation for independent research and evaluation, as well as for advancing the reform; the establishment of a special administrative body in the Ministry of Health that will be responsible for the implementation; and the strengthening of regulatory bodies that will be put in place for supervision and oversight of the reform process

HITaub Evening Art Exhibition

About 80 guests joined the Taub Center and the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) at Kuli Alma, a bar in Tel Aviv, for a celebratory evening to admire the artwork created by HIT students of the Department of Visual Communications. As part of an ongoing partnership between the Taub Center and HIT (nicknamed “HITaub”), a cohort of talented design students created infographics and interactive video clips inspired by the Taub Center research findings with which they most connected. Amidst some drinks and friendly mingling, guests clicked through the interactive, online graphics, enjoyed the printed infographics displayed in the gallery, and watched presentations by Taub Center researchers and HIT students alike. The evening closed with an award ceremony in which the Taub Center presented scholarships to students with outstanding projects.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel appoints Itay Matityahu as Director of Marketing, Communications and Government Relations

Matityahu will replace Gal Ben Dor, who held this position over the last two and a half years. The management of the Taub Center appreciates her contribution to developing the marketing and communications department at the Center and wishes her every success as she begins her studies toward a Master’s degree in the United States.

Itay Matityahu, who holds an accounting degree, served for three years as the deputy chair and executive director of the Students’ Union for the academic division of the Management College in Rishon LeZion. Thereafter he founded “Mitorrerim” (literally “waking up”), a social movement with the goal of training youth for community work through activity in education and leadership and their integration as active participants in the local scene. In the past year, Matityhau also founded “Haderech Hakala L’hitnadvut” (“The Easy Way to Volunteer,”) an umbrella organization connecting about 60 non-profits and potential volunteers looking to contribute to the community..

In his role at the Taub Center, Matityahu will be responsible for a variety of areas: ongoing communication with Israeli and foreign media; government relations; organizing seminars and conferences; developing and maintaining partnerships with various organizations; and, distributing Taub Center materials and research (in the fields of economics, health, education, labor, and welfare) through the internet and social media.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

 

Contact Information:

Itay Matityahu

Email: itaym@taubcenter.org.il

Mobile: +972-52-290-4678

Office: +972-2567-1818

 

 

The Management of Israeli Hospitals

Participants in this special meeting, which was held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, included professionals and policy makers in the field of health: Dr. Yitzhak Berlowitz, Director, Wolfson Medical Center; Prof. Jonathan Halevy, Director, Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, former Director-General, Ministry of Health and former Director, Assuta Medical Center; Prof. Eran Halperin, Director, Rabin Medical Center and Chair, the Union of Hospitals; Prof. Moshe Revach, Administrative Chair, Maccabi Healthcare; and,  Yael German, MK and former Minister of Health. The discussion was chaired by Dr. Iris Ginzburg, Tel Aviv University.

 

The meeting opened with a presentation by the Taub Center’s Prof. Dov Chernichovsky and Hadas Fuchs on the historical background of the hospitals and the inpatient system in Israel, and shared some recent data:

  • The number of inpatient beds in Israel is low relative to the US, and stands at half of the average of OECD countries.
  • The number of inpatient beds in Israel’s geographic periphery is substantially lower than in the country’s center and large cities.

The discussion progressed to a review of potential alternatives for the organization and administration of inpatient services in Israel, such as incorporation of the service, the creation of an inpatient authority, and incorporation under an authority or an administrative body of the Ministry of Health. Each of the discussants spoke about patients of the system who they encounter in the course of their work.

 

MK Yael German, former Minister of Health, noted governance failures: “There is no regulation in government hospitals, not even at the salary level. The reach of the Ministry of Health is so extensive, that there is no managerial capacity available to oversee the government hospitals.” Prof. Moshe Revach also referred to the inability of the Ministry of Health to offer effective administration: “The Ministry of Health is also seriously handicapped in the area of corporate governance. As a hospital director, you can potentially see the Director-General only once a year. There is no directorate, there is no audit committee and no internal auditing. When the Ministry of Health is busy with 11 hospitals as well as geriatric facilities and also public health, it cannot administer appropriately, and it relies on good people in the system.” Experts also spoke about the lack of updates in the healthcare system, as Dr. Eran Halperin detailed: “No new hospitals have been established, we are working with the same number of job positions since 1977. There are no MRIs and no CTs.”

The panelists discussed the findings from various committees on the topic of the hospitalization system, as well as the Ministry of Health’s division of responsibilities including the necessary long-term conditions in terms of financing, organization and management for carrying out the various options raised. Dr. Yitzhak Berlowitz: “The Ministry of Health is like a handicapped body that cannot fulfill its legal role. The reform in the area of mental health is an example of the split personality of the Ministry: it needs to decide whether it is a regulating and planning unit that thinks about the health needs of the country, or whether it is responsible for running hospitals.”

 

Dr. Eran Halperin also described problems that affect the whole system and the hospitalization area in particular: “It is understandable that there are directors who will prefer not to do expensive surgeries in order to stay within their budget, or will delay certain procedures due to the expense. The subject of hospitalization has not been on the agenda the past few years because of the desire to treat people within the community. In the health fund hospitals, it is possible to cut medical procedures with the wave of a wand. Health regulation is guided by the whims of economists.”

 

The discussants raised the importance of finding a solution that will stabilize the system over time as well as the need to consider technological and demographic developments when examining inpatient options. Prof. Jonathan Halevy remarked: “Development of community services is the direction, whoever doesn’t need to come to the hospital – shouldn’t come. Continuity of care is important and this is what the health funds should focus on. There needs to be an investment in hospitals and in their directorates.” Dr. Eitan Hai-Am added: “The funding of the system is far from what it needs to be. There is always a deficit. The solutions must be from the perspective of a patient from Dimona without any insurance or abilities – I would make all of the supplementary insurance public.”

 

Prof. Moshe Revach summarized the general feeling in his statement: “I hope that the Ministry of Health will be brave enough to make health policy responsive to demographic and technological developments as well as the needs of the public.”

Education and Employment Trends Among Ethiopian Israelis

A new Taub Center study points to an improvement in education and employment among the younger generation of Israelis of Ethiopian origin in comparison to the older generation. However, there is still a long road ahead to close the gaps between them and the rest of the Jewish population.

Highlights from the study:

  • 9% of Ethiopian Israelis who moved to Israel at an older age are employed in occupations that require high-skilled workers, compared to 21% of Ethiopians who were born in Israel or moved as young children and 39% of the rest of the Jewish population (according to the most recent data available).
  • 20% of Ethiopian Israelis who were born in Israel or moved at a young age hold an academic degree, as compared to 40% of the rest of the Jewish population in Israel.
  • Among employed Israelis of Ethiopian origin who moved to Israel after the age of 12, about 50% of women and 17% of men work in cleaning or kitchen services, rates dramatically higher than among other segments of the population.
  • For Ethiopian Israelis with an academic degree, rates of labor market integration into occupations that demand highly skilled workers are similar to the rest of the Jewish population, with the exception of underrepresentation in management positions.

Hadas Fuchs and Gilad Brand, researchers from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, studied the education and employment characteristics of Israelis of Ethiopian origin between the years 1998 and 2011.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the gross monthly cash income for Ethiopian Israeli households was about NIS 11,453 – about 35% less than the average population income of about NIS 17,711 per household. This gap can be explained by the findings of this study, which indicate that the education levels of Israelis of Ethiopian origin are lower than those among the rest of the Jewish Israeli population. Likewise, their labor market status is less favorable in regards to their professions and wages alike.

Education gaps between Ethiopian Israelis and the rest of the Jewish population are shrinking, but are far from disappearing entirely.

The rate of Ethiopian Israelis with a bagrut certificate is 53%, compared to 75% among the general population of Jewish high school students.

Fuchs and Brand from the Taub Center examined the education of the Ethiopian Israeli population compared to the rest of the Jewish population and found that deep gaps exist both at the high school and university levels. The rate of Ethiopian Israelis who qualify for a bagrut certificate reached 53%, compared to 75% among all students tested in the Hebrew-speaking school systems.

The Taub Center study found substantial educational gaps in the share of academic degree-holders across various groups. Of the Ethiopian Israelis born in Israel or who moved at a young age, only 20% hold an academic degree – half the rate (40%) among the rest of the Jewish population in Israel. The academic education rate among Ethiopian Israelis who moved to Israel after the age of 12 is only 6%, and most of these 6% actually arrived in Israel between the ages of 13 and 18.

English figure 1

A more encouraging finding is the improvement in the high school education of the young generation that was educated in Israel, compared to the older generation. The high school graduation rate among Ethiopian Israelis who moved to Israel at an older age is only 36%. In comparison, the rate of high school graduates among those who were educated in Israel is about 90%, a similar rate to the rest of the Jewish population.

Employment: high employment rates but with lower wages

There has been a significant rise in the employment rates of Ethiopian Israeli women, but most are employed in low-wage jobs.

Fuchs and Brand from the Taub Center found that the employment rate among Ethiopian Israelis at prime working ages (25-54) rose substantially over the past decade and stabilized in the years 2009-2011 at 72% – only slightly lower than the employment rate of the non-Ethiopian Jewish population, in which the employment rate is about 79%. This rise is true for males and females alike, though among women the increase was particularly sharp; only about 35% of Ethiopian Israeli women were employed between 1998 and 2000, compared to 65% between 2009 and 2011.

The improvement in employment for Ethiopian Israelis can be seen in the scope of work hours, as well. The number of employees holding part-time positions decreased rapidly over the past few years among this population, and occurred in parallel to an increase in the employment rate – that is, both the employment rate and the scope of full-time employment have grown.

Only 9% of Ethiopian Israelis who arrived in Israel at an older age are employed in occupations that demand high-skilled workers.

Along with the rise in employment rates, it is important to understand the occupations in which Ethiopian Israelis are employed. The Taub Center researchers found that among adults aged 30-35 (the age group selected in order to ensure the reliability of the sample) only 9% of the Ethiopian Israeli population that arrived in Israel at an older age is employed in occupations that require highly skilled workers, compared to 39% among the remainder of the Jewish population (including management positions).

As is the case with the education findings, the employment characteristics of Ethiopian Israelis who were educated in Israel are better than those who arrived at an older age. Nevertheless, gaps still exist between them and the rest of the Jewish population. About 21% of those Ethiopian Israelis educated in Israel are situated in the top levels of the labor market, as compared to about 40% among the rest of the Jewish population, and about 60% are employed in occupations for low-skilled or unskilled workers, compared to 41% among the rest of the Jewish population.

Furthermore, Fuchs and Brand discovered a relatively high employment rate for cleaning and kitchen services among Ethiopian Israelis who arrived in Israel at an older age – 50% of the women and 17% of the men are employed in this field of work. It is important to emphasize that this finding is relevant only for those who arrived after 12 years of age; the employment rates in cleaning and kitchen services among the Ethiopian Israelis who were educated in Israel is similar to the rest of the population (3.9%). A more comprehensive test conducted by the researchers demonstrated that the probability of working in cleaning is highly correlated to years lived in Israel and age of arrival. The probability of working as a cleaner is higher among those who have spent fewer years in Israel and arrived at a later age (up until 20 years of age).

English figure 2

In order to test for the presence of discrimination that would make it more difficult for Ethiopian Israelis to integrate into the labor market, Fuchs and Brand from the Taub Center checked the employment characteristics of those with an academic degree. They found that among this group of Ethiopian Israelis, there is no substantial difference from the rest of the population, with the exception of lower representation in management positions. In other words, those with an academic degree generally integrate into positions that require higher education.

English figure 3

Similarly, when examining the wages of Ethiopian Israelis with an academic degree, one can see that despite their integration into the upper echelons of the labor market, their income is lower than other earners in this category. These gaps apparently are caused by a high concentration in the academic majors and professions with relatively lower wages. For example, many Ethiopian Israelis with an academic degree who are categorized as working in “occupations requiring a high skill level” have chosen careers as social workers and teachers, where the wages are relatively low. This finding suggests that there may be less access to the academic majors and professions considered more prestigious and which lead to higher wages. Thus, higher education in and of itself is not sufficient to close gaps, but there must be an effort to ensure that there is proper representation of Ethiopian Israelis in the fields of study that will allow them to integrate into higher paying jobs.

Taub Center Researcher Hadas Fuchs summarizes: “The Ethiopian Israeli community is worse off than the rest of the Jewish population. That being said, there are substantial differences between those who moved to Israel at a later age and those who grew up in Israel. The former are characterized by low education levels, and though they integrated into the labor force, they did so at the bottom of the labor market. Take for example the years 2006-2011, during which half of the employed women who arrived in Israel after the age of 12 worked in cleaning or kitchen services. The education levels of Ethiopian Israelis who were educated in Israel along with the rest of the Jewish population are improving with time. Beyond that, the rate of Ethiopian Israelis who are working in a profession that matches their academic degree is similar to the rest of the Jewish population, though there is low representation in the professions with the highest relative wages and in management positions.”

Researcher Gilad Brand expands and explains, “It is implied that the relatively low education rates in the Ethiopian Israeli community are the main cause for the relatively low numbers in the labor market. This finding supports the importance of modern and high-quality education, with an emphasis on accessibility to the fields considered most prestigious, as a medium for integrating properly into the labor market.”

For the full document, click here (password to open the document: newtaub2015)

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Gal Ben Dor, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-464-2333.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

Education and Employment Trends Among Ethiopian Israelis

The education level of those who came to Israel at an older age is low. Though their employment rate is high, many work in low paying and relatively low-status occupations.

The status of Ethiopian Israelis who grew up and were educated in Israel is better and their education is improving. Nevertheless, labor market integration is slower than among their peers who are not of Ethiopian origins.

New Taub Center Publication: A Picture of the Nation 2015

Press Release – not for publication until June 18, 7:00

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel has published the third annual A Picture of the Nation – a booklet of original, unique, and user-friendly figures consisting of one graph, accompanied by a short explanation, on each page. The pamphlet presents a picture of Israeli society and its economy in a number of key areas: the cost of living, housing, inequality, the labor market, the shadow economy, the elderly population, education, and health. The booklet, based on Taub Center research, details where Israel is doing well, where improvement can be seen, and in which areas a change of direction is in order.

In addition to the pamphlet, Taub Center researchers have created interactive graphs, published here for the first time, that present topics such as the changes in wages from labor over time and poverty and inequality levels in Israel and the OECD.

Prominent findings of the Taub Center’s A Picture of the Nation 2015 report include:

  • The rate of food imports is very low, and imports represent only 16% of total private food expenditure. Taub Center findings show that in other industry sectors, import rates are much higher: furniture (about 40% of consumption), footwear, clothing and personal items (about 70% of consumption), and household goods (about 80% of consumption). The barriers to importing food mean that the local food manufacturers are virtually without competition – allowing them to charge high prices for their products. (Page 7)
  • In those food groups with the highest demand, such as meat, breads and grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables, the import rates are low. Competition in the food industry does not reach the food groups in highest demand. The majority of private food expenditure in Israel is on bread and grains, meat products, fresh fruit, milk products, and beverages – categories with especially low import rates.In contrast, food groups with especially high import rates, like sugar products and fish, represent just a small part of private spending on food. (Page 8)
  • Haredim make use of larger mortgages than in the past to purchase apartments. The percent of apartments purchased by Haredim is relatively high, although over time, their ability to do so is decreasing. Among Haredim, the average level of monthly mortgage payments has risen in the past decade by 72%, even though the prices of the apartments that they purchase have risen by only 6% (due to a shift towards the West Bank). This indicates a significant dwindling of resources in the Haredi sector. (Page 5)
  • On international achievement tests, the share of pupils who excel has risen and the share of weaker pupils has declined in contrast to the OECD trend. Between 2006 and 2012, the share of Israeli pupils who excelled on the international PISA exams rose slightly, and the share of weak pupils declined by about 7%. In contrast, in the OECD countries, there was a decline in the share of excellent pupils, and the share of weak pupils declined by only about 2%. Despite the improvement, the share of weak pupils in Israel is still high relative to the OECD average – about 29% in Israel versus about 18% in the OECD. (Page 50)
  • Inequality among households in Israel is among the highest in the OECD, although the trend continues to show a decline. Inequality in disposable income (that is, after taxes, allowances and benefits) has narrowed slightly in the past few years, although it still remains among the highest among developed countries. According to Taub Center researchers, some possible explanations include: demographic differences between Israel and other countries, large income gaps in the labor market, and the low effectiveness of the governmental social safety net in narrowing gaps relative to other countries. (Page 18)
  • Most of the income from rental properties goes to the wealthier segments of society. The top income quintile enjoys two-thirds of the income from rental properties. Taub Center findings show that for households in this top quintile, the average income from rent is about NIS 1,500 per month (double the income from rent of the other four quintiles). Taub Center researchers report that since the number of renters is higher among the lower quintiles, this only serves to widen the income gaps – rent money passes from the weaker economic groups to the stronger ones. (Page 20)
  • Interactive motion charts: Changes in hourly wages: 1997-2011. The figure demonstrates the changes over time in hourly wages of workers across income percentiles – starting with a decline in overall wages during the course of the second intifada, a moderate rise in the following years, and then an additional decline that began in 2008 with the worldwide recession. The most striking trend is that the wages of the lowest percentiles rose more than others over the period, apparently due to rises in the minimum wage. In contrast, the hourly wage of workers in the upper percentiles only rose slightly compared to their 1997 level. (For the figure, click here and select “Wage Changes per Work-Hour.”)
  • Interactive motion charts: Poverty and inequality rates. The figure shows data on poverty and inequality in Israel and other developed countries. The poverty rate in Israel has risen over the years (although there has been a slight decline in the past few years), and it is high relative to most of the developed countries, both for individuals and for families. Inequality among Israeli households is also very high relative to the developed world, and the trend indicates a long-term increase. In terms of depth of poverty (the distance of the average income of a poor family from the poverty line or how poor a poor family is), the situation in Israel is worsening – the average income of poor families in 1992 was 26% lower than the poverty line, and in 2010 it was 31% lower. (For the figure, click here and select “Poverty and Inequality.”)

 

To read the pamphlet on the Taub Center website, click here (password to open the document: taub2015). To receive a hard copy, contact the Taub Center.

 

Publication of this Press Release and the material it is based on is under embargo    until 7:00, June 18, 2015

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Gal Ben Dor, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-464-2333.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

A Picture of the Nation 2015

Show Me the Money: The Ministry of Education Budget 2000-2014

The State budget, and in particular the Ministry of Education budget, expresses the priorities of the government in allocating available resources. The policy paper “The Ministry of Education Budget 2000-2014: Trends and Issues,” by Nachum Blass and Yulia Cogan of the Taub Center, examined the developments in the Ministry of Education budget between the years 2000 and 2014, with an emphasis on the utilization of the budget and how it reflects those priorities.

The authors examined the size of the Ministry of Education’s budget, looking at measures such as the budget level relative to per capita GDP and relative to expenditure in other OECD countries. The study found that during the period in question, the Ministry of Education budget grew in absolute terms; over the course of 2000-2012, the implemented budget (that is, the final amount that was actually spent on education) grew by 45%. Taking into consideration the increase in the number of pupils over this same period (24%), the extent of the rise is less impressive, although the positive trend is clear.

In contrast, when the budget per pupil is examined relative to per capita GDP, somewhat different trends are found, as can be seen in the first figure. Generally speaking, until 2006, the per pupil budget relative to per capita GDP declined, while thereafter, it remained stable with a slight rise.

Education budget 1 eng

An international comparison also confirms that the rise in the Ministry of Education budget is not enough to close Israel’s gap relative to other countries. The second figure shows clearly that the OECD countries place greater importance on education at every educational level. It is also apparent that the expenditure gap between Israel and the OECD on preschool education and secondary education grew over the research period, and during this same time, the trend in primary education expenditure flipped from a positive gap (being in Israel’s favor) to a negative one.

Education budget 2 eng

Nonetheless, since the implementation of the Ofek Hadash [New Horizon] teacher wage agreements began in primary schools in 2008, there has been a significant change. The rate of per pupil expenditure rose rapidly, while per pupil expenditure in the OECD countries stagnated and even declined slightly. In light of the fact that the effects of the Oz LeTmura [Courage to Change] wage agreement with secondary school teachers will only be seen in the 2012-2015 data, and that the full implementation of the Compulsory Education Law for Ages 3-4 will only take place within the next few years, it seems likely that the current trend towards improvement will continue and strengthen.

Another important subject that was examined in the Taub Center research was the transparency of the education budget. When looking at the budget, it is customary to distinguish between three budget types: the original budget – the one that is approved by the Knesset and is accurate as of January 1 of each year; the amended budget – which is the budget following additions and changes approved by the Knesset Budget Committee; and the implemented budget – the budget that was actually utilized by December 31 of a given budget year.

Utilization of the budget during the examined period was an average of about 102% of the original budget but only about 96% of the amended budget. On the surface, this seems very impressive, especially relative to the original budget. In shekel terms, however, the significance is that in the 2012 budget, for instance, the Ministry of Education neglected to use some NIS 1.34 billion of its budget. As can be seen in the third figure, the differences between the three budget types remain fairly constant over the years.

Education budget 3 eng

Numerous items within the Ministry of Education budget were reviewed in detail in this study, and in each one, substantial differences were found between the original budget and the implemented budget. So, for instance, there is a budget line called “Reducing the number of pupils per class.” Between 2009 and 2011, NIS 218 million was budgeted for this purpose. Nevertheless, in the final implemented budget, the item is listed as NIS 0. Whether or not there was ever any actual intention to use the funds for their stated purpose, it is clear that this budget line and many others were not in fact utilized for the purposes laid out in the original budget. Quite unfortunately, the public may never know the fate of these funds.

In summary, Blass and Cogan conclude that the Ministry of Education budget is not transparent to the public, primarily due to differences between the various budget types. These differences, as well as the many transfers between budget items – and in particular, between the many unspecified, reserve items – make it very difficult to track the actual utilization of the budget. In fact, they make it impossible for the engaged public to check if the Ministry is indeed standing by its obligations and carrying out its declared programs.

Shenkar Student Award Ceremony

As part of a cooperation with the Department of Visual Communication and under the guidance of Itamar Daube, the students created short animation clips addressing issues such as the high cost of living, traffic, bureaucracy, the wage gaps between men and women, and more. Marianna Raskin, Lior Shkedi and Polly Mileshko received the awards from the head of the Department of Visual Communication Dekel Bobrov and from Gal Ben Dor, Taub Center Director of Marketing and Communications.

Objectives and Recommendations for the 34th Government of Israel

Center researchers have mapped the challenges facing the country in the fields of macroeconomics, the labor market, education, social services, and healthcare, and have suggested practical policy measures that can lead to improvements in these areas.

These recommendations do not represent a single vision; they have been written by researchers with differing perspectives and opinions on the situation in Israel. They do, however, share a common thread. They see the problem of inequality and widening gaps as perhaps the most difficult issue currently facing Israeli society.

New Taub Center Publication: Objectives and Recommendations for the 34th Government of Israel

Not for publication until May 28, 7:00

As the new government begins its work, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel presents a series of goals and recommendations for the country in the socioeconomic sphere. The authors map out the challenges facing the new government in the areas of macroeconomics, the labor market, education, welfare, and health and give detailed, viable steps that can be taken to make serious improvements in these areas. The paper’s writers are experts in their fields who have based their work on their depth of knowledge in these areas, both in Israel and beyond.

Overall, there is a common theme: Israeli society shows a high degree of inequality and growing gaps among households, which might prove to be the greatest challenge facing Israeli society to date.

These recommendations carry a budgetary price tag, but they are worthwhile and necessary investments. Implementing these changes will serve to strengthen Israeli society for all its citizens.

For the full document, click here.

Among the recommendations:

Reducing poverty and social gaps

Raising the level of the income supplement for the needy elderly to bring their incomes to the poverty line. This income supplement is intended for elderly who have no income other than the regular old-age pension. This allocation is currently lower than the poverty-line income level, leaving a quarter of Israel’s elderly below the poverty line. As Prof. Johnny Gal of the Taub Center points out, the recommended increase in the supplement would not entail a major expenditure; it would, however, significantly ease the plight of Israel’s needy elderly.

Creating a system that encourages people to save money. Prof. Johnny Gal proposes adopting the American model of the “Child Development Account,” which ensures that young people growing up in poverty start their adult lives with a reasonable amount of capital – savings to which the government and their own families both contributed. The matching funds method is used to encourage families to save – for every amount the family deposits, the government adds a supplementary sum. The maternity grant that every Israeli mother receives could serve as the initial deposit for this kind of savings plan.

 

Expanding access to welfare services

Enact a social services law. The current Welfare Services Law (1958) does not provide an adequate framework for the social services system. It does not ensure the citizen’s right to social services, nor does it specify what sort of social services package Israeli citizens should be eligible for; in fact, its failure to set nationwide norms actually creates inequality between local authorities. Prof. Gal recommends that this law should be replaced by one that is consistent and clear, and that enables the system to operate in an efficient and transparent manner.

Establish citizen rights centers. At present, many needy families do not fully avail themselves of the services and allowances to which they are entitled in the social services, social security, housing and health care systems, due to lack of knowledge or bureaucratic obstacles. Making these entitlements accessible would greatly ease their plight. Prof. Gal proposes that citizen rights centers, staffed by social service professionals, be established alongside all social services agencies.

 

Necessary reforms in the healthcare system

Shorten waiting times for medical procedures in the public healthcare system. In order to shorten the lengthy waiting periods for medical procedures in Israel’s public healthcare system, Taub Center Senior Researcher and Health Policy Program Chair Prof. Dov Chernichovsky recommends that maximum wait times should be set for each type of treatment. Likewise, a transparent scheduling system should also be established for surgeries and imaging procedures, and measures should be taken to ensure optimal use of underutilized public infrastructures.

Reduce out-of-pocket expenditures on medical treatment. Approximately 40 percent of Israel’s health spending is privately funded, compared with just 24 percent on average in the OECD countries. Prof. Chernichovsky proposed that in order to reduce the necessity of private spending, the needs for which Israelis seek private insurance must be addressed. Firstly, there should be free physician choice in public hospitalization. Secondly, those aged 75 and over should be exempt from copayments for medications to treat chronic disease.

Increase government funding and transfer supplemental insurance payments to the public healthcare system. Taub Center senior researcher, Prof. Dov Chernichovsky suggested that funding for the public healthcare system should be expanded through two sources. First, government funding should be gradually and responsibly increased – subject to structural changes and improved performance – to 75 percent of total funding, a level that is similar to other countries with national health insurance. Second, the money from supplemental insurance sold by the health funds and bought by members – some NIS 3.5 billion per year – should be transferred from the private healthcare system to the public healthcare system.

 

Employment

Improve the negative income tax mechanism. Employment grants (negative income tax) have been proven to be effective in both closing gaps and encouraging employment. Nevertheless, their use is low in Israel relative to other countries in the world. It is possible to use these incentives to encourage work among weaker populations – including minorities, older adults and those with disabilities. Prof. Ayal Kimhi suggests that the size of the grant and the range of qualifying incomes should be increased, and the criteria and application process should be simplified – ideally through the enactment of an automatic mechanism.

Exempt low-wage workers from the pension savings obligation and improve their employment conditions. Low-wage earners are strapped financially and yet they are currently required to pay into occupational pension plans, like most Israeli workers. One problem that arises, though, is that especially low-wage workers are required to set aside money for a future goal that may be less important than their current needs. Prof. Kimhi suggests that the recommended policy change would exempt very low wage workers from the pension payment obligation, while still requiring employers to make contributions on their behalf. Another problem with the pension system is the high management fees paid mainly by small savers. This problem can be addressed by creating a special pension track for low-wage earners under full supervision of a public authority.

 

Narrowing educational gaps

Make use of substantial differential budgeting. Educational gaps in Israel are high relative to the developed world. The researchers, Prof. Yossi Shavit, Dr. Yariv Feniger and Nachum Blass advise that to address these gaps, educational institutions should be budgeted according to objective and uniform measures of need that take into consideration not only enrollment figures but also the socioeconomic status of the pupils served. Differential budgeting should ensure that every pupil receives all of the tools necessary to succeed, including small classes, adequate study-track offerings, appropriately-trained teachers, well-equipped classrooms, and teaching aids.

Limit tracking in the high schools. In Israel, it is customary to differentiate between academic and technical-vocational tracks at the high school level. Matriculation certification (bagrut) rates and the rates of those who continue to higher education are lower among technical-vocational track graduates than academic graduates of similar educational achievement and social backgrounds. Likewise, more pupils from the lower socioeconomic sectors study in technical-vocational tracks than do pupils from the higher classes. This means that tracking perpetuates class inequality in the school achievement area. Taub Center researchers advise that to avoid this, it is recommended that technical-vocational education be delayed until the post-secondary level and that high school tracking be curtailed.

Reduce educational inequality outside of the school setting. Israel currently has no education policy that addresses educational processes outside of school hours: learning-disability assessment, remedial instruction and tutoring (private instruction). These services depend almost entirely on the family’s ability to finance them privately. Taub Center researchers Prof. Yossi Shavit, Dr. Yariv Feniger and Nachum Blass recommend that a public body be created for the evaluation and management of learning disabilities, to ensure that all social groups have access to this service. Moreover, the Ministry of Education should allocate resources and work with local authorities to establish high-quality learning centers and expand existing centers, and offer eligible pupils tutoring at a subsidized rate.

 

Long-term demographic trends

Institute core studies in the Haredi school system and sever links between employment, yeshiva study and military service. About 10 percent of Israel’s working-age population is Haredi (ultra-Orthodox), and current demographic trends indicate that this sector’s population share is increasing rapidly and will represent a quarter of the total working-age population within four or five decades. The Haredi school curriculum, especially for boys, does not provide its graduates with skills that enable them to participate in the labor market. Dr. Moshe Hazan and Dr. Noam Gruber recommend the following solution: the immediate introduction of core studies into the Haredi education system as a condition for the system to receive state funding. In addition, the links between employment, yeshiva study and military service should be cut to integrate Haredi men more easily into the labor market.

 

Housing

Tax rental property income and transfer authority for housing, planning and the collection of construction and city property taxes to local authorities. There has been an extraordinary rise in housing costs over the last few years. Dr. Moshe Hazan and Dr. Noam Gruber recommend that in order to improve the situation in the short term, income from rental properties should be taxed at a level similar to income from other sources. In order to ensure long-term change, the marketing of land and the responsibility for developing infrastructures should be transferred to the relevant municipal authorities in the hopes of eliminating some of the bureaucracy that currently slows down building. To encourage local authorities to invest in housing (which is not particularly profitable for them), it is proposed to allow the authorities to set property taxes as well as the taxes for property development.

 

The full list of recommendations (for details in the complete document, click here):

The economy (Dr. Moshe Hazan and Dr. Noam Gruber) – institute core studies in the Haredi school system; sever links between employment, yeshiva study and military service; tax rental property income; transfer authority for housing, planning, and the levying of construction and city property taxes to local authorities; eliminate taxes and relax regulations on food product imports; establish a single, unified authority to regulate the natural gas market; re-evaluate the level of public expenditure; ease the bureaucratic burden on small businesses and set objectives for the tax collection and enforcement authority; encourage the use of automatically-generated income statements and electronic reporting mechanisms

Welfare (Prof. Johnny Gal)– increase the old-age supplement so that the income of needy elderly reaches the poverty line; raise income assurance allowance to bring recipients to only one-third below the poverty line level; improve coordination between the negative income tax mechanism and the income assurance allowance; create an initiative to encourage saving; enact a social services law; significantly increase the number of social workers in the public welfare system; establish citizen rights centers

Education (Prof. Yossi Shavit, Dr. Yariv Feniger and Nachum Blass)– improve the quality of instruction throughout the system, with particular emphasis on institutions that serve disadvantaged populations; make significant use of differential budgeting; limit tracking in the high schools; reduce educational inequality outside of the school setting; reduce class size; improve discipline

The labor market (Prof. Ayal Kimhi) – encourage employment among Haredim, Arab Israeli women and those with low education levels; move to an employment model that offers flexibility to employers and protection for employees; improve negative income tax; evaluate minimum wage hikes in greater depth, and improve labor law enforcement; exempt low-wage workers from the pension savings obligation and improve their employment conditions; make the retirement age more flexible

Healthcare (Prof. Dov Chernichovsky) – create a hospitalization authority; continue development and increase budgets for the mental health system; expand eligibility for dental care funding; regulate long-term care insurance; shorten waiting times for medical procedures in the public healthcare system; reduce out-of-pocket expenditures on medical treatment; increase the system’s manpower supply; increase government funding and transfer money from payments for health fund supplemental insurance to the public healthcare system

Publication of this Press Release and the material it is based on is under embargo    until 7:00, May 28, 2015

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Gal Ben Dor, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-464-2333.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

 

Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel announces the appointment of Prof. Avi Weiss as new Executive Director of the Center

Prof. Weiss holds a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. He has presided as a member of the senior faculty of Bar-Ilan University since 1988 and served as Chair of the Economics Department between 2005 and 2008. His area of expertise is Applied Economics and his research focuses on industrial organization, antitrust, labor economics, law and economics, and behavioral and experimental economics. Weiss is the editor of The Economic Quarterly – the journal of the Israel Economic Association – and as the associate editor of Economic Inquiry. In the public domain, Prof. Weiss served as Chief Economist and Deputy Director of the Israel Antitrust Authority between 2003-2005; was a member of the Anti-Dumping Commission of the Ministry of Industry and Trade between 1999-2003; served as a member of the Subcommittee on the Cost of Living and Competition of the Trajtenberg Commission on Social and Economic Change; and acted as a consulting member of the Bachar Intra-Agency Committee for Reform of the Financial Sector. Today he is a member of the Competition Task Force of Israel’s Grand Strategy Forum. Prof. Weiss has been a research fellow at IZA (a labor market research center) in Germany since 2000. Throughout his academic career, Weiss has published more than forty articles in refereed journals and professional books.

Prof. Weiss was selected following a thorough search process conducted by a specialized search committee, with the aid of unbiased professionals from the field. He will be serving as the Center’s fourth executive director since its establishment in 1982. The Taub Center would like to thank Acting Director Dr. Zvi Feine for his service during this period of transition.

Weiss is happy to be joining and leading the senior research staff of the Taub Center – Prof. Dov Chernichovsky, Prof. Yossi Shavit and Nachum Blass – and the experienced and skilled research team in conducting social and economic research for the sake of the State of Israel’s future. In his words, “I am very excited to be joining and leading such a skilled and professional staff, who are the reason the Taub Center and its research are at the heart of Israel’s public conversation. I will work tirelessly to enable the Taub Center to continue advancing the public discourse in a wide array of social and economic subjects through the production and presentation of in-depth and unbiased research findings to the general public. Under my leadership, our goal will be to present both positive findings and findings that present challenges to Israel’s public policies, to explore policy alternatives for those currently in place and to recommend to policy-makers changes that can help them continue to lead the country in the desired directions.”

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Gal Ben Dor, Director of Marketing and Communication: 054-464-2333.

 

The Economic Condition of the Elderly Population in Israel

The population of the West is constantly aging. This trend is linked to poverty and inequality, since most elderly no longer participate in the labor market and live for the most part from their savings – whether from pensions or from personal capital – or on entitlements from the welfare system. A study published in the State of the Nation Report 2014 by Prof. Haya Stier (Tel Aviv University and Shoresh Institute), and Taub Center researcher Haim Bleikh, examines the issue of poverty among the elderly population in Israel.

The study divided the elderly population into three main groups: long-time Israeli residents (65 percent of the elderly population), immigrants from the former Soviet Union (21 percent), and Arab Israelis (8 percent). Over the years, the percentage of FSU immigrants within the overall elderly population has grown. Many of these immigrants arrived in Israel when they were already older and unable to accumulate full pension rights, and therefore their growth as a percentage of the elderly population increases the share of the population reliant mainly on state support.

An examination of the poverty rates among the elderly in the years 1997-2011 in the first figure shows the substantial differences between the various populations. The poverty rate among elderly Arab Israelis is the highest – about 60 percent of them are beneath the poverty line – in comparison to much lower poverty rates in the Jewish population of about 18 percent among FSU immigrants (similar to the overall elderly population) and only 11 percent among the long-time Israeli citizens. A look at the long-term trends shows that here, too, the condition of elderly Arab Israelis is worse. In recent decades, there has been some decline in the poverty rates among elderly long-time Israeli residents, and in recent years, the same is true among FSU immigrants. In contrast, among the elderly Arab Israeli population, poverty rates have remained stable and even risen, with the rate sitting at about 50 percent in most of the years measured, although declines were noted at the start of the period.  The poverty rate rose to 60 percent in 2010, and since then, the rate has seen a slight decline.

Economic elderly figure 1 eng

The Taub Center’s study shows that entitlement to a pension is one of the major factors in preventing poverty among the elderly. The poverty rate among households in which at least one household member is entitled to a pension stands at only about 2 percent over the period in the last two decades. In contrast, in households with elderly members who have no pension income at all, the poverty rates are relatively high.

The drop in the poverty rate among households of long-time Israelis apparently reflects the growing percentage of elderly who accumulated pensions during their work life. As can be seen in the second figure, about two-thirds of all the elderly in the long-time Israeli Jewish population enjoy a pension as a portion of their household income. In contrast, only 20 percent of elderly FSU immigrants and less than 15 percent of elderly Arab Israelis reside in households with income that includes some form of pension payments. Among the immigrants, there is a rise in the rate of entitlement to pension payments that parallels their length of time in Israel and a corresponding decrease in the poverty rate.

Economic elderly figure 2 eng

The study’s conclusion on this subject is that without income from a pension it is very difficult for the elderly to live at a reasonable standard of comfort, further supporting the significance for future generations of the implementation of the Compulsory Pension Savings Law (2008). Special attention should be paid to the population groups – mainly Arab Israelis and to some extent elderly FSU immigrants – in which many members do not benefit from this added income.

One of the ways to contend with poverty and economic deprivation among the elderly, as well as with various physical and social difficulties, is joint living arrangements of the elderly with their extended family members of working age. There is a question as to whether such living arrangements can be viewed specifically as a strategy employed by families to cope with the hardships of poverty.

From a comparison of the rate of poor households in the various groups as measured by disposable income (i.e., after taxes and transfer payments from the government are taken into account), it emerges that in extended families headed by a working-age member, the rate of poor households is significantly lower than among households headed by an elderly person. As the third figure shows, this picture of differences in the poverty rates according to living arrangements has remained consistent in all the groups. Among the long-time residents, the rate of poor households headed by an elderly person is 13 percent, in comparison to a rate of 8 percent among households in which elderly reside, but which are headed by a working-age individual. Among FSU immigrants, the corresponding poverty rates are 21 percent as opposed to 5 percent, respectively, and among Arab Israelis, the rates are 68 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Economic elderly figure 3 eng

These findings indicate that extended family living arrangements contribute substantially to improving the living conditions of the elderly, especially among the more economically vulnerable groups – as in the case of Arab Israelis and immigrants, who have not accumulated any real income from pension savings. This conclusion holds even when taking into account the fact that, among these groups, a large portion of the households headed by younger persons in which elderly reside are not necessarily well-off. Furthermore, the extended family living arrangement contributes to improving the standard of living not only of the elderly individual, but of the younger family members as well, due to the addition of a pension and state transfer allowances to the family income. Therefore, this type of living arrangement can be seen as a strategy for avoiding poverty for all the family members, younger and older alike.

The Importance of the Level of High School Math Studies to the Academic Studies and Future Careers of Israeli Students

The study found that employment was higher among those who took a bagrut [matriculation] exam of at least 3 units of math than among those who were tested at a lower level or did not take the bagrut exams at all, although there were no employment gaps between those who studied 3, 4 or 5 units of math. In contrast, there were substantial income gaps between each level of math study. Most of the difference was indirect: learning higher level math leads to choosing more rigorous academic studies, which, in turn, leads to employment at a higher wage level. In addition, studying 5 units of math is also positively and directly related to income (that is, through statistical analysis controlling for certain variables), particularly among women. A theoretical scenario analysis showed that moving a student from 4 to 5 units of math study is expected to increase wages by 10% – 6% of which is the direct effect and 4% is due to increased income from the fields of study typical for someone who learned 5 units of math (primarily computer sciences). Level of math study affects the choice of field of academic study more for women than for men, and women’s wages are also more impacted by their level of study. In order to encourage higher level math studies, there must be an improvement in the teaching level as well as a higher awareness of the importance of math studies among pupils and their families. Consideration should even be given to incentivizing the schools to teach  higher level math to more pupils.

 

A monthly struggle to make ends meet

Low wages coupled with the high cost of consumer goods and housing – basically, the challenge of making ends meet – have been a great concern for a large number of Israelis in recent years.  Taub Center researcher Eitan Regev explored the economic situation of households in recent research published in the State of the Nation Report 2014.   Regev undertook a comprehensive analysis of household income and spending, and explored differences among population groups (Muslims, Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews), Druze, Christians, and non-Haredi Jews) as well as between income quintiles.   His research highlights some unique findings with regard to income and savings among the Haredim, and points to the overall challenges that the vast majority of Israelis face in making ends meet.

While the public discourse commonly relies on a comparison of income versus consumption, the focus of Regev’s study was slightly different – namely exploring the relationship between a household’s total income and its total expenditures, which include, but are not limited to, consumption.  In other words, the study asked: are Israeli households spending within their means or are they in deficit?

The first figure compares monetary household income and expenditures by population groups.  Household income comes from a range of sources, including cash income from wages, capital, benefits from both government and non-government sources, and pension funds.  In addition, household income includes the average monthly value of income from the redemption of tax-free savings funds (kranot hishtalmut) – which is received as a one-time lump sum, generally after six years.  Household expenditures consist of spending on consumption; taxes (income tax, social security, health tax); personal capital invested in a home or a car and down payments made on these; expenditures on financial savings including monthly mortgage payments and payments to pension, provident, and tax-free savings funds; and transfers to other households (alimony, child support, gifts, etc.).

Ends Meet figure 1 Eng

This analysis reveals the substantial gap between total household income and total expenditures among Israeli households, showing that, on average, all population groups in Israel consistently find themselves with a deficit at the end of the month, with their income unable to cover their expenses.  Israeli Christians have the smallest gap between the two, with a deficit of NIS 671 per month.  They are followed by non-Haredi Jews at NIS 864.  Israeli Muslims and Druze fall somewhere in the middle, with monthly expenditures exceeding monthly incomes by about NIS 2,000.  Haredim have the greatest deficit by a wide margin, with expenditures that are, on average, NIS 3,209 higher than their income on a monthly basis.  This gap is equivalent to almost one-third of the monthly income of Haredi households.

A major reason for the large gap between the income and expenditures of Haredim is due to the heavy spending on home purchases by this population.  The second figure shows that while similar rates of Haredi and non-Haredi Jews purchase homes to live in, Haredim are much more likely to purchase homes for use by others or for investment purposes.  In the decade between 2003 and 2012, 0.63 percent of non-Haredi Jewish households purchased a home for use by others or as an investment in a given year.  That figure was more than doubled, at 1.34 percent, for Haredi households.  Haredi households, on average, spend NIS 1,182 per month on housing that is not for their residence, in comparison to only NIS 425 among non-Haredi Jews.

Ends Meet figure 2 Eng

The difference in home purchase patterns stems from the fact that, in comparison to other Israeli households, it is more common for Haredim to purchase residential real estate for investment purposes and for Haredi parents to purchase a home for their children prior to their marriages.  In recent years, real estate investment seems to be increasingly viewed by the Haredim as an investment vehicle that can be used as a source of income while allowing for Torah study.  A key question remains regarding the income sources that support real estate purchases among the Haredim.  Interviews and data presented in Regev’s chapter suggest that Haredi benefit societies (charitable organizations known as gemilut chasadim) play an active role in this regard.  It is likely that these benefit societies provide loans to Haredi families – disguised as donations – which are often funded from foreign sources via money laundering schemes.

While home purchases are indeed a savings avenue that can offer financial rewards in the long term, down payments and monthly mortgages often lead Israeli families to be in the red.  As housing prices rise, Israeli families are increasingly taking on larger levels of debt. Dr. Noam Gruber in the State of the Nation Report 2014 shows that there has been a real increase of about NIS 70 billion in mortgage debt, and the share of mortgage debt out of all household debt has increased from 67 percent to 70 percent in the last five years.

Soaring housing prices and increased indebtedness due to housing are key factors causing Israeli families to struggle to make ends meet.  Young couples frequently rely on assistance from parents in order to purchase a home and avoid an overdraft in their bank account.  In cases where such help is unavailable, home ownership often becomes unattainable.  Regev’s research shows that, on average, Israeli households across population groups and in all but the top income quintile are unable to make ends meet.  A pattern of negative savings is likely unsustainable, and leads to questions about the ability of Israeli families to succeed economically in the long term.

Jerusalem: “What’s Happening?”

Jerusalem event cover

This unique evening was jointly sponsored by WIZE, the movement to change the culture and night life among young people in Israel.

The event took place at Mike’s Place and included short talks from journalists and leading social activists alongside Taub Center researchers. Talks touched on a variety of aspects of Israeli life, from the changing Israeli labor market to the influence of low productivity on the daily lives of everyone in Israel.

There was also a screening of the short animated films designed by students in the Visual Communications Department at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, under the guidance of Itamar Daube and the distribution of infographic postcards designed by the Visual Communications Department at the Holon Institute of Technology under the guidance of Sigal Perelman and Bob Orel – all of which were based on Taub Center studies.

Eitan Regev: “Challenges of the Israeli Economy”

Eitan Regev, Taub Center researcher, presented the obstacles that impede growth in the Israeli market place, among them employment inequalities, an education system that ranks near the bottom when compared to the rest of the developed world on international measures, and a low level of labor productivity in comparison to other Western countries. In his words, narrowing educational gaps, a new way of systemic thinking on the part of the education system, and dealing with problems of bureaucracy and impediments to importing goods would all lower the cost of living and contribute to growth.

Dalia Narkis: “The World Works Differently”

Dalia Narkis, chair of Manpower Israel and the head of the Mediterranean region in the company, spoke about the changing work place, emphasizing that nowadays people change work places with greater frequency than in the past – often within a year and a half. She noted that research has shown taking a second degree immediately after a first degree is not as effective with regard to work promotions as taking the second degree after accruing a few years of experience. Narkis said that the technological era and the internet has created a wide variety of positions that were not even available a few years ago and that in the future, places of work will not be able to meet all of the demand for positions, leaving room for entrepreneurship and the self-employed.

Sagit Azary-Viesel: “Government Priorities in the National Budget”

Sagit Azary-Viesel, Taub Center researcher, pointed to several problems with the state budget, among them the fact that “social” budgets in Israel are lower relative to other countries. Likewise, government ministries tend not to fully use the budgets available to them. The solution, she says, is increased budget transparency and careful follow-up on budgets.

Gal Alon: “So Where Are We in This Story?”

Gal Alon, founder and CEO of Insights, called on everyone present to work toward change in the areas in which they are active, to find the values that are important to them and to find the framework within which to fulfill them. In his words, we all share responsibility, and that means becoming more involved and being partners in decision making in organizations and institutions where we work and where we are active.

Gad Lior: “The Government’s Economic Policy”

Gad Lior, senior economics journalist for Yediot Aharonot and emcee for the evening, summarized the event and presented the complexity in  creating economic policy: Should the wealthy and successful businesses be taxed higher – something that will bring in more money to the state coffers but which might force some of them to leave the country? He weighed the variety of perspectives presented throughout the evening, closing the evening with what he thinks of as the burning questions in the political process.

Tel Aviv: What’s Happening?

TLV wize cover

This unique evening was jointly sponsored by WIZE, the movement to change the culture and night life among young people in Israel.

The event took place at the Ismi Salma bar, and included short talks from journalists and leading social activists alongside Taub Center researchers. Talks touched on a variety of aspects of Israeli life, from obstacles in the healthcare system to the many reasons that Israelis spend much more money than they earn.

There was also a screening of the short animated films designed by students in the Visual Communications Department at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, under the guidance of Itamar Daube and the distribution of infographic postcards designed by the Visual Communications Department at the Holon College of Technology under the guidance of Sigal Perelman and Bob Orel – all of which were based on Taub Center studies.

A tasting of the evening’s offerings:

Prof. Ayal Kimhi: “The Socioeconomic Threat to the Start-Up Nation”

Ayal Kimhi, Deputy Director of the Taub Center, presented the unacceptable gaps that are turning Israel into a world leader in innovations and entrepreneurship on the one hand, and on the other hand, a country ranked amongst the lowest in the Western world in terms of education and health. According to him, only a long-term investment in education will help Israel to close the gaps and remain a leader in high-tech.

Shaul Amsterdamski: “What Are You Paying For and Who Has an Interest – A Tale of the Healthcare System in Israel”

Shaul Amsterdamski, a journalist for Calcalist, spoke about the supplementary health insurance that almost every Israeli pays for by contributing to the health funds. Amsterdamski noted that  despite the sizeable amount of money contributed, those insured still have to pay out nearly $3 billion for surgeries and a variety of other treatments. In his words, there are many interested parties who want to be sure that the consumers continue to pay for surgeries and treatments from their pockets, even though public funds from taxes should cover these situations.

Eitan Regev: “Cost of Living: How Do Israelis Make Ends Meet?”

Eitan Regev, Taub Center researcher, presented different factors that influence the cost of living. Among them, he pointed to price differences, which have increased between Israel and other Western countries, complex bureaucracy, and the absence of infrastructure, all of which seriously harm growth and advancement possibilities for the country.

Narkis Alon: “So What Do We Do With This?”

Narkis Alon, social entrepreneur and founder of the ZEZE social project and the Elevation Academy, requested that the audience not vote out of habit or social pressures but that people read up and look into what the parties say and what is closest to their beliefs. She called for real engagement, for creating visions and long-term thinking regarding the effects of voting now on what will happen in the next 20-30 years.

Hila Korach: “How Can We Make Politicians Stick to Their Promises?”

Hila Korach, a journalist for Ma’ariv and host of Channel 2’s morning show “The World This Morning,” encouraged the audience to use data that is independent (like that of the Taub Center) and sites that present information on Knesset member activity, and warned of being drawn to slogans and campaign promises. In this way, Korach said, it is possible to form an overall perspective on what is really happening in the country.

A roof over one’s head: the housing market in Israel

The high cost of housing and various proposals to address this challenge have captured significant attention among the Israeli public and policymakers in recent months.  Toward the end of February, an official government report was released addressing this very subject, sparking renewed interest and debate.  Taub Center Senior Researcher Dr. Noam Gruber explored the failures and potential solutions for solving the housing crisis via an in-depth study published in the State of the Nation Report, 2014.

As shown in the first figure, the period between 2000 and early 2008 was characterized by stable, even declining real housing prices.  Following a sharp decline in interest rates in 2008, however, the trend in housing prices began to change and prices have increased rapidly since then.  Between their low in April 2007 and July 2013, housing prices increased by 84 percent nominally or by 53 percent in real terms (i.e., after accounting for inflation).  Rental prices followed similar trends, although they have increased less quickly than housing prices.

housing figure 1 eng

As seen in the second figure, the share of Israeli households owning more than one apartment nearly quadrupled in recent years, increasing from 2.1 percent in 2006 to 8.1 percent in 2012.  Examining this trend by income level reveals that higher-income households are largely responsible for this increase; the share of households in the top quintile who own two or more apartments increased by 16 percentage points – from 6 percent in 2006 to 22 percent in 2012. Investor entry into the residential real estate market is due to low interest rates on the one hand and the relatively low taxes levied on rental income on the other. As a result, the residential real estate market has become too expensive for younger households, who are being pushed into the rental market. Gruber recommends that rental income be taxed in a similar manner to other income sources, which would reduce demand for residential real estate as an investment vehicle.

housing figure 2 eng

Surveys of construction companies point to lack of available land for construction and building permit delays as the two main barriers leading to rigid housing supply, which in turn drive increases in housing prices.  The third figure shows the length of various procedural stages required to obtain a residential construction permit in Israel.  Overall, the process takes an average of 13 years, with actual construction accounting for only two of those years and the rest devoted to bureaucratic procedures.  The stages that are particularly long are obtaining district committee approval (an average of 5 years) and obtaining local committee approval (an average of 3 years).  In contrast, the time required to obtain a building permit in most European Union countries is only 8-12 weeks.  The two lengthy steps in the process of obtaining district committee approval include fulfilling application conditions and fulfilling licensing conditions. The delays here often stem from stakeholder opposition to building plans and insufficient infrastructure in place to support the proposed construction.

housing figure 3 eng

As noted, insufficient release of land for construction by the state and a very centralized planning process hinder the expansion of housing supply.  To address these issues, Gruber recommends that the state relinquish control of land to local authorities – which may facilitate more rapid construction – and only retain those areas that are important for environmental protection or needed for construction of national infrastructure in the future.  To speed up the permit process, local authorities, rather than the central government, should assume control of all aspects of land development.  These include the power to approve development projects and the responsibility for establishing necessary infrastructure – as well as receipt of the resulting income stream.  If these aspects were concentrated at the local level, it would remove the current conflict of interest (and the resulting project delay) between the developer, who wants to build, and the local authority, which incurs significant costs due to infrastructure development but receives little benefit from the construction. In addition, in order to promote urban development, Gruber recommends allowing, by law, the sale of condominium buildings via a supermajority decision – a common practice in various places worldwide – as an alternative to the current vacate-and-build or National Outline Plan 38 programs.

Gruber’s research addresses the very real concerns among Israelis with regard to housing prices in recent years.  Today, young and lower-income Israeli families are forced to choose between taking on larger mortgages or paying increasing rents and further delaying their hopes of home ownership.  According to Gruber, both demand and supply-side policy solutions are available and should be implemented thoughtfully to ensure protection of environmental resources, sufficient infrastructure development and overall quality construction and affordable housing options for the Israeli public.

Winter 2015 Bulletin

The Taub Center has enjoyed a considerable amount of activity over the last few months – from this year’s Singer Series conference on “Strategic Planning and Long-Term Thinking in Policymaking,” with some 200 participants, to our just released State of the Nation Report 2014. The publication is available online, and hard copies have been distributed to our mailing list – to request a hard copy and/or to join our mailing list for future publications, please contact info@taubcenter.org.il.

Endangered species: declining supply of senior faculty members in Israel’s universities

A substantial share of Israel’s economic success and prestige in the international arena can be attributed to the deep knowledge base and new inventions arising from within this small country. Israel’s universities have played a key role in developing cutting-edge research, placing the country among the world leaders in making new discoveries and publishing seminal research findings. However, Prof. Dan Ben David’s findings show that Israel’s national priorities with regards to investment in its research universities exhibited a complete turnaround in the 1970s. According to the study, in contrast to the common perception that the first decade of the 2000s was a “lost decade” for higher education in the country, the long-term trend regarding Israel’s research universities has actually remained quite steady since the turnaround forty years ago.

The twenty-five years between Israel’s independence in 1948 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 were both formative and challenging for the new country. Refugees and immigrants from European and Arab countries arrived to Israel with few resources to their name. Several wars erupted during this period and food was rationed during the 1950s, while Israel’s infant economy lagged well behind that of developed countries. Nonetheless, by the time of the Yom Kippur War, Israel had seven research universities, staffed by a rapidly growing number – both in absolute terms as well as relative to population size – of senior faculty members. At their peak in the early 1970s, Israel’s universities enjoyed a supply of senior faculty members per capita similar to that of the United States.

Everything has changed since then. The dwindling supply of senior faculty members is representative of the seriousness of this problem. While there were 131 senior faculty members per 100,000 people in 1973, this number had fallen 53 percent by 2010, to only 62 senior faculty members. For comparison, the number of senior faculty members per capita in the U.S. actually increased over the years.

Endangered species Fig 1

Israel’s population grew quickly (133 percent) between 1973 and 2010. As a larger share of the country’s population chose to pursue higher education, the student population in Israel’s research universities grew even faster, at 157 percent during these 37 years. In contrast, the number of senior faculty positions in Israel’s research universities grew by a paltry 9 percent during the same time period.

Israel’s flagship universities actually had fewer faculty members in 2010 than they had in 1973. Specifically, Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University had 17 and 26 percent fewer senior faculty positions, respectively, in 2010 than they did in 1973. The world-renowned Technion, an institution greatly responsible for Israel’s high tech revolution and success in this realm, also lost 26 percent of its faculty positions in the years between 1973 and 2010.

Over the last few decades, Israel’s higher education policies have changed considerably. While research universities were deprioritized, the 1990s saw major growth in the development of lower-cost non-research academic colleges, with the aim of increasing accessibility to higher education for a greater share of the country’s population. The emphasis on expanding access via academic colleges was not accompanied, however, by a similar investment in faculty at these institutions. When including both universities and colleges in the analyses, Ben-David’s findings show that Israel’s higher education student population increased by 428 percent, while the total number of senior faculty rose by just 40 percent.

Endangered species Fig 2

While the creation of academic colleges has been important in enabling more people to attain a higher education, the trend towards promoting education in academic colleges rather than universities has a couple negative ramifications. First, there is concern about the quality of education provided by faculty members who themselves are not actively engaged in the latest research. Second, the growing lack of tenure and tenure-track positions may discourage talented individuals from pursuing a research path, either in Israel or altogether.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the threats facing Israel’s major universities. In order to address these threats, the government has developed a program of “excellence centers” designed to attract top Israeli researchers. These centers are characterized by greater freedom with regards to compensation levels and reduced teaching requirements for researchers. However, if Israel wants to continue enjoying the economic and social benefits of producing world-class knowledge and research, along with intelligent and capable graduates, it must revisit its support for universities. This calls for a re-evaluation of national priorities towards greater investment in universities, and particularly for increasing the number of senior faculty positions.

Postponing retirement? Employment trends among Israel’s older adults

The Israeli population is younger than that of other developed countries, although a substantial increase in the share of older Israelis is expected in the coming years. In 2030, it is expected that Israel will have 233 people over 65 years of age per 1000 people in the working age population, a growth of over 45 percent in the relative share of the elderly population versus 2010. Growing life expectancy has led to mounting pressure on social security, health and pension systems in Israel. In response, it is important that older Israelis are able to continue participating in the labor market as long as they are physically and mentally capable of doing so.

In a study exploring changing employment patterns among Israel’s older adults between 2001 and 2011, Taub Center Deputy Director Prof. Ayal Kimhi and Taub Center researcher Kyrill Shraberman find that within the prime working age population of 35-54, the employment rate of Israeli men is substantially below that of the OECD, although this gap has narrowed since the first half of the previous decade. The employment rate among females of the same age in Israel was lower than that of the OECD until the mid-2000s, but has increased more rapidly since and is now higher than the OECD rate.

Rates of employment among those aged 55-74 have been steadily increasing in recent years in both Israel and the OECD, generally with more rapid increases seen in Israel. As shown in the first figure, employment rates for Israeli men and women aged 55-64 increased and were similar to those of the OECD during the first half of the 2000s. However, in the mid-2000s the rates for Israel began to break away from those of the OECD, growing more quickly and leading to a gap of over 6 percentage points in Israel’s favor.

Employment rates among both Jewish immigrant men (those who immigrated to Israel since 1990) and Jewish non-immigrant men in this age group were similar in 2011, at around 75 percent. Jewish immigrant men made particularly impressive strides in employment, having begun the decade with employment rates that were 15 percentage points below those of Jewish non-immigrant men. Arab Israeli men also had notable increases in employment rates beginning in 2007, although they still trailed Jewish non-immigrant and immigrant men by about 25 percentage points in 2011.

The employment rate trends among women aged 55-64 were similar to that of men, although at lower rates: about 60 percent employment for both Jewish immigrants and non-immigrants in 2011. While employment rates of Arab Israeli women doubled in the decade leading to 2011, they remain very low at around 12 percent in 2011. Employment trends Fig 1

As shown in the second figure, employment trends among men in the 65-74 year old group in Israel and the OECD are similar to those of men in the 55-64 age group. That is, Israeli employment rates are similar to those of OECD countries until 2004, then increase more rapidly – leading to a more than 5 percentage point gap in Israel’s favor in 2011. Nonetheless, there is a large difference in the employment rate itself between these two age groups. Among the 65-74 male population, the rate is over 40 percentage points lower than that of the younger group, although it is growing more rapidly. For women in the 65-74 age group, Israel has lagged behind the OECD average during the entire 2001-2011 period, although the gap has shrunk to just one percentage point in 2011 as a result of faster employment growth among Israeli women.

Employment rates among all three groups of Israeli men ages 65-74 grew in the previous decade. However, Jewish non-immigrant men widened the gap between their employment rates and those of Arab Israeli men – particularly during the first half of the decade, and maintained about a ten percentage point gap in their favor relative to immigrant men throughout this period. A similar pattern emerges among women in this age group. Employment rates of Jewish non-immigrant women rose from under 8 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2011, leaving them several percentage points higher than those of immigrant woman and much ahead of those of Arab Israeli women, fewer than 2 percent of whom were employed.

Employment trends Fig 2

Finally, Kimhi and Shraberman explore employment trends among those ages 75 and older. In contrast to the trends seen among men between 55-74 years of age and women between 55-64 years of age, employment rates in the OECD were consistently higher than Israeli rates throughout the decade. While employment rates for Jewish non-immigrant men ranged from 6 to 8 percent during the decade, those for Arab Israeli and Jewish immigrant men ranged from about 1 to 4 percent, with a slight upward trend in the rates for new immigrants in the latter half of the decade. With less than 2 percent of all Israeli women employed in this age group in 2011, there were minimal differences in the employment rates of non-immigrant Jews, immigrant Jews and Arab Israeli women over the past decade.

Increasing employment rates among older adults is leading to greater labor income for this population group – and in turn, reducing poverty rates in terms of market income (income before government transfers and taxes). As Ben-David and Bleikh show in the State of the Nation Report, 2013, market income poverty rates among the elderly declined relatively steadily over the past decade, although they still remain high at 51 percent in 2011.

Today, a number of factors are promoting continued labor market participation among older adults, including better health and jobs that are less physically demanding due to the change in occupational mix. In parallel, rising life expectancy, low capital market returns and uncertainty regarding the level of support from social security systems is leading older people to opt for continued employment. Kimhi and Shraberman suggest that Israeli policymakers can support these employment trends by promoting flexible work conditions and the use of tax credits to enable continued employment past the official retirement age.

Return on educational investment for Israel’s Haredim (ultra-Orthodox)

Within Israeli society, a large debate has ensued about how to better integrate the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) into Israel’s labor market and modern economy.  To shed light on this issue, Taub Center researcher Eitan Regev explored trends in education and employment among the HaredimRegev found a substantial decline in both high school and higher education rates among Haredim over time, with the older generation of Haredim more likely to have an academic degree than the younger generation.  This is in marked contrast to growing rates of higher education among every other segment of Israeli society, including non-Haredi Jews, Muslims and Druze, and Christian Arab Israelis.  Haredi education, particularly for men, is increasingly characterized by fewer years of formal education, with the number of Haredi men of prime working ages 35-54 having no more than a primary school education rising from under one-third to nearly half over the last decade alone.

What do these declining educational qualifications mean for Haredim when it comes to their integration into Israeli economy?  How does the decision to attend a small yeshiva starting after eighth grade, rather than continue with formal education, impact a Haredi boy’s prospects for future employment and his earnings potential?  Regev’s research addresses both issues.

Both Haredi men and women are much more likely to be employed if they hold an academic degree.  As shown in the first figure, while only about a third of Haredi men ages 25-64 without an academic degree are employed, the employment rate doubles to 71 percent for Haredi men with an academic degree.  Such a gap, although smaller, also exists among Haredi women.  While only half of Haredi women without an academic degree are employed, the figure jumps to 76 percent among those with an academic degree.  Across various cities with large Haredi populations (Ashdod, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, Bnei Brak, El’ad, Jerusalem, and Modi’in Illit,) large employment gaps exist between Haredim with a higher education and those without.

Within Haredi society, it is common that women play the role of primary wage earner.  Consequently, employment rates of Haredi women surpass those of men.  Most Haredi girls receive a secondary education while the vast majority of Haredi boys continue in religious studies only – at the expense of any further formal education beyond primary school.  As such, even among those without an academic degree in the Haredi community, women are likely to have a higher level of formal education than men and are thus better able to integrate into the labor market – with a 16 percentage-point employment advantage versus Haredi men.  Among Haredim with an academic degree, the gap between the respective employment rates of men and women shrinks to five percentage points, in favor of women. Haredim Fig 1

The role of education transcends beyond the ability to find work, and has a substantial impact on types of jobs available to the individual and the compensation earned.  As is common for other population groups, wages for Haredim with an academic degree are much higher than for those without.  As shown in the second figure, among Haredi men ages 25-64 who are employed full-time, the average monthly wage of those with a higher education is about 80 percent greater than for those without an academic degree.  Haredi women with higher education enjoy wages that are 71 percent higher than their less educated counterparts.  Wage gaps between Haredim with and without an academic degree are evident across the cities with large Haredi populations, with the largest gaps evident in Bnei Brak (105 percent for men; 102 percent for women) and Beit Shemesh (100 percent for men; 81 percent for women). Haredim Fig 2

Not surprisingly, the wage and employment gaps between those with and without an academic degree have an impact on overall household income, which is affected by the education levels of both the husband and wife.  In 80 percent of Haredi households, neither the wife nor husband has an academic degree.  These households have income that is 62 percent lower than those in which only the wife has an academic degree and 88 percent lower than those in which only the husband has an academic degree.  In only five percent of Haredi households, both the wife and husband have higher education – and such households enjoy income that is 157 percent higher than those households with no academic degree holders (18,943 NIS per month versus 7,382 NIS per month).  Sufficient household income from labor is critical to help ensure a decent standard of living for large Haredi families and to prevent households from falling under the poverty line.

Regev’s findings on the labor market impact of high school and higher education are important as they provide guidance on policies and programs to improve labor market outcomes and address the high poverty rates among the Haredim.

 

Labor Income Inequality Trends in Israel

This period witnessed a growing return, or yield, on education, a factor which could lead to a rise in labor income inequality. Israeli labor income gaps actually declined somewhat, though, due to the fact that low-wage earners improved their status relative to higher-wage earners. One possible factor in the narrowing of labor income disparities was the rise in the minimum wage. Workers in income Deciles 7 and 8 experienced a wage decline, relative to lower- and higher-wage workers, and this led to a more polarized labor income distribution. This polarization trend is also evident in the distribution of work-hours by occupation; occupations associated with both low and high wages witnessed an increase in work-hours relative to work-hours in occupations characterized by mid-range wages. A breakdown by occupation shows that the education wage premium for low-income occupations increased, while for high-wage occupations there was a decline in the return on education.

This fact may also explain the relative wage increase experienced by low-wage earners. These trends indicate that higher education is now becoming economically advantageous to those in low-wage occupations.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Trends in the Development of the Education System

The professional education qualifications of teachers have improved, and the great majority of them now have higher education. The learning achievements of Israel’s pupils have also improved, as is evident from the results of the Meitzav tests, matriculation exams and international testing. Furthermore, the achievement gaps between pupil populations have narrowed, including those between Jewish and Arab Israeli pupils. Improvement is also evident in the educational environment of schools. Despite these changes, the financial allocation per pupil in Israel is still low relative to the OECD countries, and despite the narrowing of gaps between various population groups, they remain among the largest of the OECD countries. There is still a long way to go until the quality of what the education system provides to its pupils and until pupil achievement, in both learning and educational terms, meet the standards of the countries that Israel seeks to emulate.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Financing and Work Force Issues in Israel’s Healthcare System

Both of these problems pose a risk to Israel’s good performance with regard to its population’s health. In contrast to the trends in the healthcare systems of other developed countries, including the United States, there is a continuing shift towards greater private funding in the Israeli healthcare system. This trend widens the disparities in access to health services and widens overall gaps between income groups. These changes in the healthcare system are the result not only of the diminishing share of public funding, but are also due to the fact that a large portion of private financing occurs via out-of-pocket expenditure. Although some 80 percent of the population has supplemental insurance in Israel, this insurance does not contribute sufficiently to reducing direct out-of-pocket expenditure, unlike in other countries where the private insurance system is more developed. The aging of the physician population is another issue. While it is beneficial that older physicians bring with them greater experience to the healthcare system, considering the overall decline in the number of physicians relative to the population in Israel, this trend could lead to a further drop in the supply of practicing physicians.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Poverty Within the Elderly Population in Israel

While there has been an increase in poverty among the general population, the findings point to a decline in poverty rates among the elderly over time. These lower poverty rates relative to the younger population are achieved primarily through the National Insurance Institute old-age benefits that constitute a safety net for many people, as well as through income from retirement pensions. In practice, poverty rates among those entitled to pensions are extremely low. When the elderly population is broken down into three groups, long-term residents, immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Arab Israelis, poverty rates were found to be higher among the two groups with low pension entitlement – immigrants and Arab Israelis. One way that some of the elderly deal with poverty and hardship is to live with younger, working family members. Such living arrangements are especially typical among Arab Israelis and Russian immigrants, granting them a higher economic standing than they would have living on their own and helping them avoid poverty.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Making Ends Meet – Household Income, Expenditures and Savings in Israel

A large part of this chapter is devoted to the way the purchase of apartments is financed among the Haredi population in the face of its limited resources. The data indicate that the average Haredi household has a structural deficit of over NIS 3,000 a month between its income and expenditures (about a quarter of its expenditures), which is partially financed via extensive loans – thus generating a constant increase in Haredi households’ indebtedness to banks and other lenders (such as benefit society funds). Haredi households’ monthly mortgage payments rose by 72 percent in real terms over the last decade, and the share of Haredim with mortgages and the extent of their investment in real estate rose substantially, as well. It appears that a large part of the financing for these investments has its origin in unreported capital from foreign sources, and the proliferation of such investments might have a non-negligible effect on the demand for apartments (and apartments for investment, in particular) and their prices. An examination of the balance of income and expenditures in all sectors reveals a disturbing picture: the average household is unable to buy an apartment without assistance, usually from their parents’ savings which are constantly dwindling.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

The Shadow Economy in Israel

It is estimated that halving the size of the shadow economy would increase state revenues by 3-4 percent of GDP, about NIS 30-40 billion. With this additional income, the government would be able to increase public spending, reduce the tax burden and lower the national debt. The primary factors encouraging the shadow economy include a high marginal tax rate, cumbersome bureaucracy, insufficient enforcement, and flawed reporting norms. In order to reduce the size of the phenomenon, it is necessary to focus on three main areas: (1) improving the enforcement process: it is recommended that goals be set for the Israel Tax Authority both in terms of enforcement and in terms of improved service and more streamlined reporting, and that norms of transparency be applied with regard to meeting these goals; (2) changing the collection method: to make it more difficult for citizens to evade taxes, it is recommended that tax filing be made mandatory, that the system move to taxation on the basis of households (rather than individuals) and that it recognize expenses, and that information technology is leveraged to facilitate automated reporting and regulation; and (3) reducing the tax burden: it is recommended that tax rates be lowered for small businesses that use electronic means of reporting income in order to reduce incentives to conceal income.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Health Status and Healthcare System Budgeting in Israel in the Context of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)

While accepted metrics in the healthcare system in Israel and in general often evaluate mortality, the Disability-Adjusted Life Years measure estimates disease burden that is caused either by premature death or by morbidity and disability, thus giving a more complete picture of health status in the country. An examination of the health status of Israelis shows that while cardiovascular diseases and major cancers are responsible for 42 percent of mortality, their contribution to overall disease burden as measured by DALYs stands at only 18 percent. In contrast, orthopedic problems and major depressive disorders, which contribute to 19 percent of overall disease burden, are almost non-existent among the causes of death. In terms of budgeting for the public healthcare system, current allocations for the 15-54 year-old age groups, populations which are very important in terms of their role within households and in the labor market, are relatively low compared to this group’s share of disease burden. This study also found that the Health Basket Committee dedicates almost half of its annual budget to cancer-related illnesses and treatment, which are among the main causes of mortality. Nonetheless, new funding for treatment of orthopedic disorders and mental health issues is minimal due, in part, to the narrow mandate of this committee.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Integration of Arab Israelis and Jews in Schools in Israel

An absolute majority of Israelis live in homogeneous Jewish or Arab localities, work in separate workplaces and attend separate schools. Nonetheless, the reality of separation is changing, and more integrative spaces are being created in various fields. This chapter focuses on the education system in Israel, examining past and present separation and integration between Jews and Arabs, and the reasons for and challenges posed by such. Part 1 surveys the genesis of the separation between Israel’s Arabs and Jews in the school system over the course of the twentieth century. Part 2 presents contemporary data on the slowly accelerating trend of integration over the past decade. Part 3 deals with the motivations of parents when it comes to choosing an integrated school for their children, and the conclusion touches briefly upon the challenges that integration poses to the designers of education policy.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

The Israeli Housing Market

The rising prices are due both to increased demand – driven mainly by low interest rates and preferential tax treatment – and to rigid supply, rooted in bureaucratic complications of the construction process, an inherent conflict of interest at the local level, and a high prevalence of condominium apartment living in Israel, which poses an obstacle to urban renewal. In the short term, in order to reduce demand, it is recommended that rental income be taxed in a manner similar to capital market income. In the long term, in order to foster greater housing-supply flexibility and reduce the housing market’s high volatility, it is suggested that construction-related planning, approval and supervisory processes be simplified and decentralized, that income from development and the responsibility for laying the infrastructure necessary for that development be transferred to local authorities, and that the sale of apartment buildings based on tenant supermajority be authorized as an alternative to National Outline Plan 38 (known in Hebrew as TAMA 38) and vacate-and-build (known as pinui-binui) programs. It would also be desirable – so long as there is no negative impact on the environment or on the construction of future national infrastructure – to transfer the property rights to a large share of the country’s available land to local authorities and private entities.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Welfare Budgets for Israel’s Elderly Population

The review points to an increase in the allowances provided by the National Insurance Institute and the success of these benefits in distancing the elderly from the poverty line. Yet, the level of transfer allowances has deteriorated over time in relation to the rise in the standard of living in the economy. Along with the allowances, many services are provided for the elderly, some of which serve a large portion of the elderly population (i.e., long-term care benefits), while others, such as assistance with housing, are intended for more specific groups. The dispersion of budgets and services intended for the elderly among different government ministries adversely affects the ability to follow up on the implementation of funding, leads to wasted resources and causes incomplete utilization of benefits by the intended beneficiaries of the allowances and services.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Patterns of Expenditure on Food in Israel

This chapter attempts to define the normative per capita expenditure on food in Israel; the normative expenditure refers to one that is neither insufficient nor excessive. It also examines the composition of food expenditure by income levels in order to assess the possible consequences of that composition on nutrition. In this manner, the chapter aims to help formulate policies that could alleviate the distress of households that are unable to meet the normative expenditure. The findings indicate that the normative per capita expenditure on food in Israel – not including the costs of “dining out” and alcoholic beverages – is about NIS 600 monthly. Families in the lowest decile need an additional NIS 170 per capita per month to reach this amount, while families in the second lowest decile need about NIS 90 to reach it. Likewise, differences were found in the various foods that were avoided when necessary. As per person income declines, households tend to maintain their expenditures on meat and poultry, bread and baked goods, and vegetable oils at a relatively stable level, but tend to forgo eggs, milk and dairy products, and especially fruit and vegetables, even though they constitute the basis for a healthy Mediterranean diet.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

The Singer Series: State of the Nation Report 2014

This year’s report brings together 13 original, path breaking studies in the areas of society, economics, labor, education, social welfare, health, and public expenditure.  The report opens with an examination of household spending, income and savings in Israel, shedding light on differences among population groups in this regard.  The Israeli housing market is explored, including the rise in housing prices, trends in home ownership, and policy recommendations for expanding housing supply.  Two chapters address the Israeli labor market: the first offers an analysis of and suggestions for reform based on learnings from the Scandinavian “flexicurity” labor market model and the second examines trends in wage disparities.  Other chapters address trends in the education system, including issues of budgeting and educational achievements, as well as the integration of Arab Israelis and Jews in Israeli schools.  Other topics covered in this volume include: the shadow economy in Israel; poverty among Israel’s elderly; welfare budgets for Israel’s elderly population; patterns of food expenditure in Israel; financing and workforce trends in the healthcare system; and health and healthcare in the context of both mortality and disability/quality of life.

Social Expenditure Tables

For the most recent fiscal year, original budget data is provided.The tables include expenditures on education, health, income maintenance, welfare (personal social services), housing, employment, and immigrant integration.

Announcing The State of the Nation Report 2014

State of the Nation Report, 20142014 SNR cover

Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel

The Taub Center’s annual report, published today (Wednesday), presents a comprehensive picture of Israel’s 2014 socioeconomic situation in comparison to other countries and to the past.  The Report brings together 13 studies in the areas of society, economics, labor, education, social welfare, health, and public expenditures.

A Selection of Findings from the State of the Nation Report, 2014:

Cost of Living

Making Ends Meet: Household Expenditures, Income and Savings in Israel
Eitan Regev (Taub Center Researcher)

  • The average Israeli family cannot “make ends meet;” across all population groups in Israel, expenditures exceed income.  High housing prices are the primary reason for this phenomenon, and for non-Haredi (non-ultra-Orthodox) Jews, the purchase of an apartment is the factor that shifts them from a positive to a negative monthly balance.  The average household cannot purchase an apartment without assistance, which usually comes from their parents’ gradually decreasing savings.
  • Among non-Haredi Jews, average monthly expenditures are NIS 864 higher than monthly income; among Muslims, this gap is NIS 1,919; and among Haredi Jews, the deficit between expenditures and income stands at NIS 3,209 – approximately one-third of their reported income.

Figure 1 enlarged

 

  • Total monthly benefits and support received by Haredi households stand at NIS 3,256, compared to less than NIS 2,000 for households in the other population groups.  The disparity between Haredi Jews and other population groups in terms of the level of financial support they receive is largely the result of funding from organizations other than the National Insurance Institute (the source of the majority of support for other population groups), including the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Jewish Agency, and yeshivas.  Haredi households receive NIS 1,331 per month, on average, in support from these institutions, while the total monthly support that the average Haredi household receives is NIS 3,256.
  • Although there has not been a notable increase in the price of apartments purchased by Haredi households over the past decade, their average monthly mortgage payments increased by 72% in real terms, and the share of mortgage holders among them increased substantially. Because the financial resources of Haredi households have dwindled considerably over the last decade, they are forced to take out much higher mortgages than in the past in order to buy an apartment at the same price.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of purchasers buying an apartment to live in among Haredi and non-Haredi Jewish households was similar. However, the percentage of purchasers of apartments for purposes other than to live in (e.g., for use as investments or for providing for the residence of one’s children) among Haredim is more than double the rate among non-Haredi Jews.  The average monthly spending on real estate among Haredi Jewish households jumped substantially between 2007 and 2012, from NIS 1,374 to NIS 3,190, in comparison to an increase from NIS 1,407 to NIS 1,847 in the same years among non-Haredi Jews.

The Israeli Housing Market
Dr. Noam Gruber (Taub Center Senior Researcher)

  • In recent years,Israeli housing prices have risen rapidly; between
    April 2007 and July 2013,
    prices increased by 53% in real terms.  This rise is due both to increased demand on the one hand – driven mainly by low interest rates and preferential tax treatment – and to rigid supply on the other, rooted in the complex bureaucracy of the construction process, an inherent conflict of interest at the local level, and a high prevalence of condominium apartment living in Israel, which poses an obstacle to urban renewal.
  • Despite the escalating prices of recent years, the percentage of households that do not own an apartment has actually declined, from 27.7% in 2006 to 26.5% in 2012.  Furthermore, the share of households that own two or more apartments has risen nearly four-fold, a finding that reflects an expansion of investment activities in the real estate market.
  • The percentage of young households in the 25-34 age range that do not own a home has increased from 43% in 2003 to 54% in 2012.  In contrast, the share of those aged 65 and over who do not own a home has actually declined.

Figure 2 enlarged

  • There is a clear correlation between housing prices and the number of housing starts in Israel.  In the early 2000s, there was a steep decline in housing starts, with about 1,000 fewer housing starts per month.  The number remained low until 2008, when housing prices began to recover and the number of housing starts began to rise, ultimately returning to its level at the beginning of the decade. The upward trend in housing starts was halted, and even reversed, in mid-2011.
  • The residential construction process in Israel takes an average of 13 years – of which only two years are for construction while the remaining 11 years are devoted to bureaucratic processes – assuming the construction plans are ultimately approved. The stages of the process that stand out for their length are those of district committee approval (five years on average) and local committee approval (three years on average).  By comparison, in most European Union countries, the maximum amount of time needed to obtain a building permit is 8-12 weeks.
  • Israel has very high residential density, as reflected by a low number of rooms per person by international comparison – even relative to countries with higher population densities. Out of 36 countries examined, only 5 countries have a lower average number of rooms per person than does Israel.

 

The Macro Picture and the Labor Market

Labor Market Reform in Israel and the Flexicurity Option
Prof. Dan Ben David, (Taub Center Executive Director) and Liora Bowers (Taub Center Director of Policy)

  • An examination of economic and social indicators in Denmark and Israel shows that in Denmark, the employment rate of men in prime working ages (35 to 54) is 8% higher than in Israel, labor productivity is 63% higher than in Israel, and average annual wages are 57% higher. Moreover, disposable income inequality is one-third lower in Denmark than in Israel, and disposable income poverty rates are 62% lower in Denmark

Figure 3 enlarged

  • The Flexicurity countries (countries characterized by policies that provide relatively high levels of hiring and firing flexibility to employers alongside a financial safety net and employability for workers) have consistently enjoyed the highest employment rates among all developed country groupings since the early 1980s. Conversely, Israel’s low employment rate has placed the country consistently at the bottom of the list, alongside the Mediterranean countries, until recent years.An examination of economic and social indicators in Denmark and Israel shows that in Denmark, the employment rate of men in prime working ages (35 to 54) is 8% higher than in Israel, labor productivity is 63% higher than in Israel, and average annual wages are 57% higher. Moreover, disposable income inequality is one-third lower in Denmark than in Israel, and disposable income poverty rates are 62% lower in Denmark.
  • The chapter proposes labor market reforms based on the advantages of Flexicurity and applicable to Israel.

Labor Income Inequality Trends in Israel
Prof. Ayal Kimhi (Taub Center Deputy Director) and Kyrill Shraberman (Taub Center Researcher)

  • Wage disparities between the 90th percentile and the 50th percentile in Israel are higher than in the rest of the OECD countries.
  • Wage disparities between the 50th percentile and the 10th percentile decreased sharply between 1997 and 2011.  While in 1997, Israel had the highest wage gap between these groups among OECD countries, by 2011, five other countries had larger wage disparities in the bottom half of the income distribution than did Israel.
  • The 7th and 8th income deciles are those primarily hurt as a result of the labor market changes that took place between 1997 and 2011.  Their wages increased at a slower rate relative to those of both lower- and higher-wage earners, and as a result, the wage distribution has become even more polarized.  If workers in the 6th to 8th income deciles may be regarded as middle or upper-middle class, this finding indicates that the gap between the middle and lower classes has narrowed, while the gap between the middle and upper classes has widened.

Figure 4 enlarged

  • In occupations characterized by either low or high wages, work hours increased relative to those occupations characterized by salaries in the middle of the wage distribution.  In essence, a wide range of such middle class workers were made worse off by changes in the labor market, as a result of a relative decrease in both their wages and their work hours.
  • The wage disparities between workers with 16 or more years of education and those with no more than a high school education grew from 83% in 1997 to 88% in 2011.  The return on higher education (i.e., the education wage premium) is greater for men than for women and it only increased for men.  The education wage premium in low-wage occupations rose, while it decreased for higher-wage occupations.  In other words, higher education is becoming economically beneficial for low-wage workers as well.
  • At the beginning of the last decade, income from labor represented two-thirds of Israel’s national income.  Starting in 2001, the share of the national income pie coming from labor has decreased, reaching 62% in 2011.  This means that a smaller portion of national income reaches workers via income from labor, while a larger portion of national income is transferred to the wealthy.  Capital income is concentrated in the upper income deciles, a fact which intensifies the labor market’s already-existing polarization.

The Shadow Economy in Israel
Dr. Noam Gruber (Taub Center Senior Researcher)

  • The size of the shadow economy in Israel is estimated at about 20% of GDP, double that of
    many developed countries.  It is estimated that halving the size of the shadow economy would increase government tax revenue by 3-4% of GDP, or about NIS 30-40 billion.
  • The tax benefits granted by law are particularly biased in favor of large companies. For example, the four largest companies (out of 829 companies with preferential status) receive 60% of the benefits.  The top decile of companies (by revenue) pays a corporate tax rate of 6.8%, less than half of the rate paid by the lowest decile (17.6%). Large companies take advantage of their bargaining power vis-à-vis the government and pay less in taxes relative to benefits – to such an extent that the taxes they pay are even less than the cost of the benefits they receive.  Israel’s tax policies create a greater burden on small businesses than on large ones, and this discrimination may be viewed by the public as a justification for the norm of tax evasion.
  • An international comparison of the tax burden (i.e., VAT/sales tax, corporate tax and dividend tax) as a share of total income, shows that the overall tax rate for small businesses in the country is high relative to Western countries – about 58%, in comparison to the OECD average of 51.5%.

Figure 5 enlarged

  • In 2012, a company in Israel had to spend an average of 235 working hours (about 20 hours a month) to complete the required tax filing process, in contrast to an average of 163 hours in the European Union, 175 hours in the United States, and less than 100 hours in some European countries.  Such a bureaucratic burden is even more onerous to small businesses due to its high cost relative to the businesses’ revenue and particularly their profit.
  • The Israeli Tax Authority does not establish goals for enforcement or service, nor does it operate with budgetary transparency. The Tax Authority apparently allocates less than 1% of its budget for enforcement, such that it is no surprise that enforcement is lenient and limited and that even punishment does not serve as effective deterrence against tax evasion.
  • In countries without a mandatory tax filing requirement, the size of the shadow economy as a share of GDP is about 21%, higher on average than in countries that have a mandatory filing requirement, where the size of the shadow economy is about 16.5% of GDP.  The average cost of tax collection as a share of tax revenues is lower in countries that have a mandatory filing requirement. That is, the data do not support the Tax Authority’s claim that the implementation of mandatory filing would necessarily entail higher costs.

Education                                                                                                                               

Integration of Arab Israelis and Jews in Schools in Israel

Dr. Uri Shwed, Prof. Yossi Shavit (Taub Center Education Policy Program Chair), Maisalon
Dellashi, and Moran Ofek

  • The number of students in mixed schools (those including Jews and Arab Israelis) increased 59% in the years 2003-2013.  In the same period, the number of students in schools without Arab Israelis grew by 9%, and the number of students in schools without Jews grew by 33%.  The share of secondary school students out of all students at mixed schools increased from 52% in 2003 to 58% in 2011.
  • Special education accounts for a substantial portion of mixed schools; among the mixed schools in the Jewish education system that have up to 5% Arab Israeli students (228 schools), 49 are special education schools.  Among mixed schools in the Jewish education system in which the share of Arab Israeli students is between 6% and 50%, special education schools represent a majority.  Among Arab Israeli mixed schools with Jewish students, about one-quarter are classified as special education schools.
  • Analysis of the mixed schools (excluding special education) according to the socio-economic level of the locality in which they are situated shows that mixed schools are prevalent in areas populated mainly by members of the middle and upper-middle class.  Among the lowest socioeconomic clusters, in which the majority of localities are Arab Israeli or Haredi, there is not a single mixed school.  In socioeconomic clusters 3 and 4 (lower middle class), about 4% of students study in mixed schools, while in socioeconomic clusters 9 and 10 (upper-middle and upper class), a greater share of students – around 10% – study in mixed schools.  In fact, mixed schools are concentrated primarily in socioeconomic clusters 5 and higher.  It is important to note, however, that mixing is common mainly in the weakest neighborhoods of the various localities.

Figure 6 enlarged


Trends in the Development of the Education System
Nachum Blass (Taub Center Senior Researcher)

  • The growth of the education budget between 2008 and 2013 enabled the reduction of average class size – the growth in the number of classes was greater than the growth in the number of students.  In the lower secondary schools, there was clear growth in the number of classes (18%), which brought an 11% reduction in average class size.  The average number of students per class in upper secondary schools in the same years decreased by 5%.
  • The educational achievements of Israel’s students have improved; according to 2013 data, not only did the rate of eligibility for matriculation increase to 53.4% of the relevant age group (for the first time since the establishment of the state), but the rate of studying and application for matriculation also increased by more than 3%, a very meaningful achievement when considering the weaker groups within the population.
  • Israeli students improved their results on the international exams (on the latest exams of PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS).  When comparing their achievements to those of students in other countries that participate in all of the exams, a bright picture emerges with regard to Israel’s advancement, both in terms of average scores and in terms of the reduction in the share of weaker students and the increase in the share of stronger students.
  • The share of students taking the matriculation exam for 5 units (the highest level) of mathematics decreased from 20% in 2006 to 13% in 2011.  The share of students taking the matriculation exam for 4 units of mathematics also decreased in the same period, from 29.5% to 26.5%.  The share of students testing in 3 units of mathematics increased by 10%.  This figure should be viewed in light of the substantial increase in the share of students of low socioeconomic background among the twelfth-grade student population.
  • The growth in the education system budgets between 2005 and 2013 somewhat
    compensated for the continued discrimination in funding against the Arab Israeli sector of the education system.  In primary education, the budget per class in the Arab Israeli sector was higher than that of the Jewish sector as early as 2005, but the budget per student was substantially lower (This is due to a much higher average class size in the Arab Israeli sector).  While in primary education, the additional funding provided per class in the Arab Israeli sector was similar to that provided in the Jewish sector, because the size of Arab Israeli classes has decreased, the allocation per student in the Arab Israeli sector has increased much more (45% in the Arab Israeli sector and 25% in the Jewish sector). A similar process took place in secondary education; however, even though the allocation per student in Arab Israeli secondary schools has increased at a higher rate, it is still lower than the allocation per student in Jewish schools.

Figure 7 enlarged

Poverty and Social Welfare

Poverty within the Elderly Population in Israel
Prof. Haya Stier and Haim Bleikh (Taub Center Researcher)

  • The poverty rate among the elderly (Israelis who have reached the retirement age) is decreasing over time, despite an increase in the poverty rate among the general population. This result is primarily due to pensions, with poverty rates among those who are eligible for pensions at a very low level.  Even so, in terms of disposable income (after taxes and transfers), one of out of every six elderly households in Israel is below the poverty line.
  • Examination of the depth of poverty – the gap between the average income of poor households and the poverty line – reveals that in 2011, the average income of poor households with elderly persons was about 24% below the poverty line, in comparison to an average of 36% below the poverty line for poor households without elderly persons.  Nevertheless, the depth of poverty among both groups rose and the situation of the poor elderly is worse today, on average, than it was in the past.
  • Division into population groups clearly indicates that the poverty rate among elderly Arab
    Israelis is the highest – almost 60% live below the poverty line, as compared to 18% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and 11% of Jewish veteran Israelis (those born in Israel or who immigrated before 1990).  In the last few decades, the poverty rate among Jewish veteran Israelis has decreased, as has been the case among immigrants from the former Soviet Union over the last few years.  However, among the elderly Arab Israeli population, the poverty rate is high and stable – approximately 50% in most years between 1997 and the present, including a peak rate of 60% in 2010.

Figure 8 enlarged

  • About two-thirds of elderly Jewish veteran Israelis enjoy income from pensions.  Only 20% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union receive a pension, although this rate is on the rise.  Fewer than 15% of elderly Arab Israelis receive pensions due to the continuing challenges facing the Arab Israeli population within the labor market.
  • Among immigrants from the former Soviet Union who live in a household headed by an elderly person, transfer payments from the government reduce the share of poor households by 76%; among elderly former Soviet Union immigrants living in households headed by a younger (non-elderly) person, transfer payments reduce the share of poor households by 85%. Among veteran Israelis, the reduction in poverty due to government transfers reaches 69% of households headed by working-age individuals and 67% of households headed by elderly individuals.  Among Arab Israelis, the reduction is much lower among both types of living arrangements, standing at only 23% for households headed by an elderly individual and 32% for households headed by working-age individuals.
  • Living arrangements, particularly among the population entirely dependent on government subsidies, affect the likelihood of elderly individuals above retirement age finding themselves under the poverty line.  Those heading their own households are more likely to be poor than those living within the framework of an extended family (i.e., households headed by working-age adults).

Welfare Budgets for Israel’s Elderly Population

Sagit Azary-Viesel (Taub Center Researcher) and Prof. Haya Stier

  • The total budget allocated to the elderly increased from NIS 19.8 billion in 2005 to NIS 25.9 billion in 2012, but a detailed examination of the assistance provided through various programs reveals budgetary erosion in some areas, such as in housing.
  • Total allowances granted by the National Insurance Institute for the elderly, which help keep the elderly above the poverty line, have increased. Nonetheless, the level of benefits has eroded over time relative to the increase in the overall standard of living.
  • Between 1990 and 2012, the average expenditure per capita on long-term care benefits increased from NIS 1,859 to NIS 2,561 per month (in 2012 prices). The number of those eligible for the long-term care benefit has also increased over the years, despite the rise in the entitlement age.  During these years, the number eligible increased nearly five-fold – a sharp rise, even relative to the growth in the size of the elderly population during that time.  In 2012, the share of long-term care benefit recipients among the over-65 population was 21%, as compared to 8.3% in 1991.
  • Aside from allowances, many services are granted to the elderly, but such services and their budgets are dispersed among various government ministries.  This dispersion impacts the ability to monitor the use of budgets, leads to the wasting of resources and results in diminished uptake of benefits among the elderly population.
  • A budget analysis of the Unit of Service to the Elderly at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services 2005 through 2012 shows a gap of tens of percentage points between the original budget and actual spending.  Actual spending in 2012 was only 46% of the approved budget for the Unit in that year.

Figure 9 enlraged

  • The average rent assistance provided to those eligible has eroded substantially; from 40% of average rent costs in 2005 to 25% of average rent costs in 2012.  The erosion mainly stems from a substantial increase in rent costs, at a rate of about 5% on average per year, in contrast to minimal increases of about 0.3% on average per year in the level of assistance. In addition, funding for assisted living has decreased over time, even though the size of the elderly population has grown, particularly the specific population for which this assistance is intended. In addition, the share of the elderly population that lives in public rental housing has declined, from 13.6% in 2003 to 11.4% in 2011.

Patterns of Food Expenditures in Israel
Prof. Dov Chernichovsky (Taub Center Health Policy Program Chair) and Eitan Regev (Taub Center Researcher)

  • The per capita expenditure on food in the lowest income quintile is NIS 517 per month.  In
    the highest income quintile, the expenditure stands at NIS 1,224 monthly, that is, 2.4 times that of the lowest quintile.
  • In 2005, most food products in Israel were cheaper in comparison to the OECD, but within six years alone, all food categories (aside from vegetables and fruit) have surpassed the OECD in terms of price. Dairy products in Israel were only 6% more expensive than the OECD average in 2005, but were 51% more expensive in 2011; fish products were 30% cheaper in 2005, but were 25% more expensive than the OECD average in 2011.  Fruits and vegetables, as noted, remain slightly cheaper in Israel than in the OECD in 2011, but in 2005, they were substantially cheaper (a gap of 15% in 2011 versus 40% in 2005).  The sharp rise in food prices in recent years in Israel has negatively impacted the makeup of food consumption, especially among poor families who have to forgo more fruits and vegetables, dairy products and fish.

CaptureFigure 10 enlarged

Healthcare

Financing and Workforce Trends in the Healthcare System
Prof. Dov Chernichovsky (Taub Center Health Policy Program Chair) and Eitan Regev (Taub Center Researcher)

  • Public funding of healthcare expenditures relative to GDP in Israel has declined over time.  This stands in contrast to trends in the United States and the OECD, where the share of public funding has increased, such that the gap between Israel and developed countries is widening.  In 1995, Israel, the US and the OECD countries all spent between 5-6% of GDP on public expenditures for healthcare; in contrast, in 2011, the US spent more than 7%, the OECD countries spent almost 7% and Israel spent less than 5%.  That is, relative to its resources, Israel devotes a very little – and declining – share to public funding of the
    healthcare system.
  • Over the last three decades, the supply of young doctors (aged 35 and under) per thousand people has decreased by 60%.  In parallel, the supply of older physicians (aged 65 and over) in the population has increased by 95%.  Given the overall decline in the share of doctors relative to the population in Israel, the trend of aging among physicians could lead to a further, substantial reduction in the supply of physicians in the workforce.

Figure 11 enlarged

Health Status and Healthcare System Budgeting in Israel in the Context of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)

Prof. Dov Chernichovsky (Taub Center Health Policy Program Chair) and Liora Bowers (Taub Center Director of Policy)

  • The study examined the Israeli health system in terms of the DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) metric. While measures of health system performance in Israel and globally are generally based on mortality rates, the DALYs metric is based on the burden of disease caused by both premature death and illness and disability, thereby providing a more comprehensive picture of health status.
  • While cardiovascular diseases and major cancers are responsible for 42% of mortality, their contribution to overall disease burden (measured by DALYs) stands at only 18%. In contrast, orthopedic problems and major depressive disorders, which contribute to 19% of overall disease burden, are almost non-existent among the causes of death.

Figure 12 enlarged

  • In the public healthcare system budget (based on the capitation formula used to fund the HMOs), current allocations for the 15-54 year-old age groups, populations which are very important in terms of their role within households and in the labor market, are relatively low compared to this population’s share of disease burden based on DALYs.
  • The Health Basket Committee dedicates almost half of its annual budget to treatments of cancer-related illnesses, which are among the main causes of mortality.  In contrast, new funding for treatment of orthopedic and mental health disorders, which are among the key causes of disease burden, is minimal. This is due in part to the narrow mandate of this Committee, which is not permitted to recommend alternative treatment methods that do not entail new technologies.

 

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, headed by Professor Dan Ben-David, is an independent, non-partisan institution for socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision makers, as well as the public in general, with a big picture perspective on economic and social areas. The Center’s interdisciplinary Policy Programs – comprising leading academic and policy making experts – as well as the Center’s professional staff conduct research and provide policy recommendations in the key socioeconomic issues confronting the State.

 

This press release and related materials are for publication only as of Wednesday, 17/12/14 at 6:00 am.

For details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Gal Ben Dor, Director of Marketing and Communications 054-464-2333.

 

 

Labor Market Reform in Israel and the Flexicurity Option

Flexicurity countries have higher levels and faster growth in labor productivity and the gap between these countries and Israel has been increasing for decades. These countries are also characterized by higher rates of employment and lower rates of poverty and income inequality than Israel – which raises a number of questions, chief among them: is the better socioeconomic performance in flexicurity countries due to flexicurity policies and could this approach be a viable option for Israel? This chapter explores these questions through an examination of the various attributes of flexicurity policies and a comparison of socioeconomic outcomes in flexicurity countries, other country groupings and Israel, and concludes with some relevant policy recommendations.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).

Michael Shalev

Professor Michael Shalev is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (and chaired the department 1999-2002) and the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has a BA in public administration, psychology and sociology from the University of Victoria in New Zealand, an MA in labor relation studies from the London School of Economics and a doctorate in labor relation studies from the University of Wisconsin. In 1979-1981 he served as lecturer at Tel Aviv University. He has been a researcher and visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley; York University; the University of North Carolina; Duke University; the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University; and the Middle East Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. Professor Shalev has been employed by the OECD as a consultant, and has written a monograph on the subject of strike trends in the western world. His book, Labour and the Political Economy in Israel deals with the history of the Labor Federation and the Israeli Labor Party. Shalev has also written on topics such as class politics in Israel, and class and gender inequality in Western countries. His publications include: “Class Divisions Among Women,” “Gender, Class and Varieties of Capitalism Perspective” (with Hadas Mandel), “The Welfare State Consensus in Israel: Placing Class Politics in Context”; and “Class Meets Gender in Comparative Social Policy .”

Sigal Shelach

Dr. Shelach is the Deputy CEO of JDC-Israel and CEO of TEVET, the employment initiative of the Israeli Joint Distribution Committee and the Israeli Government for integrating new populations into the workforce, thereby removing them from the cycle of poverty. Shelach completed her BA at the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture, and her MA (with honors) and PhD in the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her PhD thesis focused on the field of migration and employment.. In 2001, Dr. Shelach joined the research team of the Research and Economics Authority within the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and served as a senior researcher in various fields of the Ministry’s activities. Throughout her years there, she was involved in running programs to integrate populations in employment. In 2007, she joined TEVET, and supervised development of employment programs amongst Arab-Israelis, immigrants, and employer relations Since 2012 Dr. Shelach has served as the organization’s CEO.

Miki Malul

Prof. Malul is a faculty member in the Faculty of Management at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Since 2008, he has headed the Economics and Society track in the Department of Public Policy and Administration, and since 2013 has served as head of the Atidim B.A. program in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Alongside his academic work, Prof. Malul is a member of a number of public committees, among them the Ministry of the Interior Committee on Setting the Borders of the Bedouin Settlements in the Negev, and the Ministry of the Economy’s Round Table for Regional Development. Prof. Malul completed all his degrees with distinction: a doctorate from the Department of Public Policy and Administration, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and B.A. and M.A. degrees in Economics from the same university. Following his studies in Israel, Prof. Malul completed a post-doctorate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University; his fields of research focus on policy in the labor market, and the connection between inequality and poverty, and economic growth and development. In these fields, Prof. Malul has published more than 40 articles in international refereed journals.

Uri Aviram

Prof. Aviram is the Zena Harman Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the Baerwald School of Social Work at Hebrew University.  His academic work focuses on social policy, mental health policy, and rehabilitation of the mentally disabled in the community, and selected aspects of academic training for the social work profession.  He also heads the National Council for the Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled in the Community.  In the early 1980s, Prof. Aviram was head of the School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University and in the 1990s, he headed the School of Social Work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  During his many years of work, he earned academic appointments at universities in the USA, Canada and Australia.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California in Berkley, an M.A. in Social Work from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a B.A. from Hebrew University.  His research has been published in Israeli and foreign academic journals.  His books in the field of mental health include:  “Psychiatric Treatment and Civil Liberties” (with Dan Schnit), “Community Mental Health in Israel” (with Itzhak Levav), “Mental Health Services in Israel” (with Yigal Ginat) and more.

Uri Yanay

Uri Yanay is Professor Emeritus at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and fills a variety of academic positions, including coordinating and administrative tasks. He teaches selected courses dealing with personal social services, victimization and conflict resolution through mediation and a “restorative justice” perspective. Most of his students are in social work and welfare studies as well as conflict resolution, law and public administration at Hebrew University. In the past he directed social services for the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. As part of his postdoctoral studies at the Universities of Kent and London School of Economics, Professor Yanay specialized in evaluating welfare programs. He holds a PhD, MA and BA in social work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been invited to lecture at Yale University (the United States), Oxford (England), University of British Columbia (Canada), as well the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne (Australia). Professor Yanai served as a member of the State Commission to Commemorate Terror Victims (the Maltz Commission) and the inter-ministerial committee for rehabilitation of crime victims (the Karp Commission). He likewise was an advisor during the enactment of the Rights of Victims of Crime Law in Israel, as well as advising the programs recently initiated by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services in this area. In recent years, his academic research and publications have focused on analysis of governmental policy, relief services, governmental care and welfare intended for victims of terror and violent crime.

Meir Yaish

Prof. Yaish is the Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal for Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (RSSM). From 2006-2010, he served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Council on Social Stratification and Mobility.  Between 1999 and 2002, Prof. Yaish was a Research Fellow at Oxford University. He has published many articles in the spheres of social stratification and mobility, sociology of education, and altruism.

Idit Weiss-Gal

Dr. Weiss-Gal is the head of the B.A. degree program at the Bob Shapell School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University.  She holds a Ph.D. in Social Work from Tel Aviv University (1999).  In 2000, she completed her post-doctoral studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 2002 she was a guest researcher at Plymouth University in Great Britain. Her research focuses on social work policy practices in Israel and the world, and critical approaches in social work.  In 2011, she appeared at several international universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington University in St. Louis, lecturing on her empirical research in employment policy.  In 2008 and 2010, she was awarded the Israeli Science Foundation prize and the Rector’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Tel Aviv University.  Dr. Weiss-Gal has published numerous articles, among them:  “Is Social Work in Israel Aware of Poverty? Discourse Analysis of Social Workers’ Job Descriptions” (in Society and Welfare, 2011), and “Social Policy Formulation and the Role of Professionals: The Involvement of Social Workers in Parliamentary Committees in Israel” (Health and Social Care in the Community, 2011).

Roni Strier

Roni Strier is a senior lecturer and head of the Organization and Administration M.A. degree track at the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Welfare Studies and Health at Haifa University. Dr. Strier completed his doctoral studies at the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University, and his post-doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. He is the initiator and academic supervisor of the University of Haifa’s flagship project for combating social exclusion, the academic supervisor of the Haifa partnership program on addressing the cycle of poverty, and a researcher and senior advisor to welfare organizations on developing exclusive services for populations living in poverty and social exclusion. He co-authored the recommendations of the “Alternative Committee,” advising leaders of the summer 2011 protests. Since 2013, he has promoted an annual bi-national Israeli-American seminar with the University of Maryland, entitled “Social Justice?” His research focuses on poverty, social exclusion, social inequality against the background of cultural and gender differences, and community studies.

 

Among Dr. Strier’s publications: “Incorporating Critical, Anti-paternalistic Social Work in the Public Welfare Services:  From Rhetoric to Practice” (2013), with Sharon Binyamin; “The Policy Field: Reciprocal Relations Between the Government and Advocacy Organizations in the Field of Society and Welfare” (2012); and research and position papers on the subject of policy, poverty, and exclusion.

Amir Paz-Fuchs

Dr. Paz-Fuchs is a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sussex in England, and a research associate at the Center for Law, Justice and Society at Oxford University. He has headed two research projects relating to the challenges of the welfare state in the 21st century (Wolfson College, Oxford University) and the responsibility of the state and the limits of privatization (joint research with Prof. Itzhak Gal-Noor through the Center for Social Justice and Democracy of the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem). As part of the project at Van Leer, Dr. Paz-Fuchs initiated the Annual Report on Privatization and Nationalization in Israel, and was a co-writer of the report; he was also responsible for formulating the project’s position papers. He holds a Ph.D. from Oxford in welfare-to-work programs, and has a B.A. in Law and Philosophy (cum laude) from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He began his academic career by teaching in the Faculty of Law at Ono Academic Center, and the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Paz-Fuchs has published over twenty articles on welfare-to-work programs, social and economic rights, and the legal aspects of privatizing social services.

Baruch Ovadiah

Dr. Baruch Ovadia is head of a program that cares for children and youth with no family support, and is also a board member of the Forum for Social Policy (ESPAnet Israel), the Israeli Center for the Advancement of Social Justice, and the World Council of Jewish Communal Service. Today, he is a volunteer children’s ombudsman at the Israel National Council for the Child. He worked for many years as a social worker and educator, established and managed the Social Services Division in the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Clalit Health Services social work service. Together with Prof. Reher of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, Dr. Ovadia established the international program for promoting social work leadership in the health system, and initiated the first International Social Work Conference in health and mental health care. Dr. Ovadia has served as deputy supervisor of hostels (education and care) in the Youth Protection Authority of the Ministry of Welfare, Chair of the Israel Council of Social Welfare (ICSW Israel) and a member of the editorial board of its journal Prevailing Opinion, and chair of MATAV, an association providing nursing services and programs. In the past, Dr. Ovadia was a lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Sciences in the academic track of the College of Administration, where he established the Master’s degree curriculum in family studies, and an adjunct teacher at the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. He holds B.A. degrees in education and sociology (1958) and social work (1961), an M.A. degree in education (1989), and a Ph.D. in social work from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2005).

Menachem Monnickendam

Prof. Monnickendam studies poverty and people living in poverty at the Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work at Bar Ilan University. He is chair of ESPAnet Israel, a member of the British Social Policy Association (SPA), the American Society of Social Work and Research (SSWR), and the European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA). In the past, he served as head of the M.A. degree program in Social Work, Director of the Organization and Administration track, and Director and founder of the School of Social Work at Ashkelon Academic College. Prof. Monnickendam has been a member of the National Committee for War on Poverty, the Supreme Committee for the Reform of Local Social Services, and the Sub-Committee for Human Resources. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (1983), completed his M.A. degree at the School of Social Work at Bar Ilan University, and his B.A. degree at the Hebrew University School of Social Work.

Ibrahim Mahajne

Dr. Mahajne coordinates the “social policy studies” cluster at Safed Academic College. In the past, he headed the Social Work Department at Al-Quds University. He has also been a lecturer at the School of Social Work at both the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. Dr. Mahajne completed all of his degrees with honors at the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University. He completed his post-doctorate at Tel Aviv University under the late Prof. Yossi Katan. In the course of his academic career, he has been awarded many scholarships and prizes from top institutions, among them the Rabin Center for Peace Research, the Minerva Center for Human Rights, the Harry S. Truman Research Institute, the Luxembourg Fund, the Dirasat Arab Center for Law and Policy, and the Supreme Monitoring Committee for Arab Affairs in Israel. Dr. Mahajne has published numerous articles in professional journals, and continues to research and study the field of social policy in an age of globalization, the formation of welfare policy in the National Palestinian Authority, and welfare policy towards Arab society in Israel. Today, Dr. Mahajne is studying poverty in Arab society in Israel: the characteristics of impoverished Arabs in Israel, patterns of coping with economic hardship among poor Arab families, the organization of the natural support system for the benefit of the poor in Arab society in Israel, civil society in Arab society in Israel as a safety network for the poor, and the approach of the Israeli social security system towards the Arab poor.

Alisa Lewin

Dr. Lewin is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa, in the areas of family demographics, marriage, divorce and family processes, old age and the family, and poverty and welfare policy.  In 2011, she served as the Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and also headed the M.A. degree program in social research applications.  In 2012, she served as a member of the B.A. Committee for the University of Haifa’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.  Dr. Lewin holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  Her M.A. studies in sociology were divided between UCLA and Tel Aviv University.  She completed a B.A. in sociology and liberal arts at Tel Aviv University (cum laude, 1986).  Dr. Lewin was awarded the International Science Foundation prize for her research on “Living Apart Together (LAT) – An International Comparison by Gender and Age.”  She also received the Ministry of Science Prize for her research on “How Does the Social Protest of Summer 2011 Resonate among the Poor.”

Yoav Lavee

Prof. Lavee is a senior lecturer (emeritus) at the School of Social Work and Director of the Center for Family Research and Education at Haifa University. He has a PhD in the field of family studies from the University of Minnesota (1985), and an MA in Clinical Psychology and a BA in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University. Prof. Lavee headed the Israel Family Policy Committee (Ministry of Social Affairs, 2008). His research spans a variety of areas, including families coping with stress; evaluation and measurement of functioning among couples and families; and family patterns in Israeli society. His publications include: “Stress Processes in Families and Couples” (2013); “Marital Stability Among Jewish and Mixed Couples Following Immigration to Israel from the Former Soviet Union” (with Ludmila Krivosh, 2012); “Relationship of Dyadic Closeness with Work-Related Stress: A Daily Diary Study” (with Adital Ben-Ari, 2007); and “The Family in Israel: Between Tradition and Modernity” (with Ruth Katz, 2002).

Lihi Lahat

Dr. Lahat is a lecturer in the Department of Administration and Public Policy at Sapir Academic College in various fields, including public administration, public management, policy design and social policy.  She holds a Ph.D. in public policy from Tel Aviv University. Her articles have been published in leading Israeli and foreign journals, including in Israeli Sociology, Social Security and the Journal of Poverty and Public Policy.  Her areas of research are:  approaches to the causes of poverty and how policy-makers deal with poverty; regulation of individualized welfare services; and the effectiveness of organizations in the era of new governance. In the course of her research, Dr. Lahat won the prestigious Eshkol Scholarship from the Ministry of Science, as well as the Pollack and Horowitz Scholarships from Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

Chana Katz

Dr. Chana Katz is a lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and the Department of Social Work at Sapir College in Sederot, as well as at the School of Social Work in Ashkelon Academic College. She received her PhD from the University of Sussex in the UK. Dr. Katz has had extensive experience working in the public sector in Israel. She established the Joint Distribution Committee-Israel Children at Risk program, and played a central role in the development of services for abused and neglected children in Israel. She has published articles on perceptions of poverty among social workers and physicians, as well as a position paper for the Welfare and Social Services Ministry regarding inter-organizational, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Katz collaborated on an article entitled, “The Authority is Ours – Social Service Departments in Local Authorities Facing the Escalating Phenomenon of Poverty: Expectations, Perceptions and Reality” published by the Taub Center (2009). In 2010, she co-edited a book on social policy during the years 1985-2008 and authored a chapter in it. Her most recent article was “Under-representation of Ethiopian-Israeli minority students in programs for gifted and talented: A policy discourse analysis” (with Chen Lifshitz, 2014). Dr. Katz’s research focuses on public policy paradigms and the relation between perceptions of poverty and poverty policy.

Boni Goldberg

Ms. Boni Goldberg serves as the director of the Community Services Administration of the Jerusalem Municipality. Ms. Goldberg received her master’s degree in Social Work and Criminology from the Hebrew University and has completed advanced courses in executive training and development through Elka, a program of JDC-Israel. Her main responsibilities at the Jerusalem Municipality are social services, public health, immigrant absorption and employment. Previously she headed the Jerusalem Municipality’s Social Services Department as well as the Jerusalem and Southern District of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services. In the framework of her work, Ms. Goldberg has represented Israel in three Aliyah Fairs. While working at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, she represented the Ministry as part of professional delegations abroad. Ms. Boni Goldberg has lectured at professional conferences in Israel and abroad, chaired panel discussions, and taught courses in professional training workshops for managers in social services departments and schools of social work

John Gal

Professor Gal is the Chair of the Social Welfare Policy program and a Senior Researcher at the Taub Center. He is at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He serves as Director of the research program in the field of social welfare policy. Professor Gal was a member of the Tamir Commission (2002), which recommended implementing the Wisconsin Plan in Israel. In 2007, he served in the public committee appointed by the Israel Academy of Sciences to assess the Wisconsin Plan’s achievements and failures. He was recently a member of the Committee for Combating Poverty (2014) and headed the sub-committee on social security and welfare. Professor Gal has a PhD in social work from the Hebrew University (1996). He has published many articles and books, including: A Voluntary Burden Indeed? The Story of Dealing with Unemployment (2002), Social Security in Israel (2004) and Policy Practice in Social Work (2011) . He also edited the book, Professional Ideologies and Preferences in Social Work: A Global Study (2003) with Idit Weiss and John Dixon. His academic focus is primarily on comparative analysis and implementation of social policy and social security in Israel and around the world. His current research topics include Mediterranean welfare states, religion and social policy, immigration and social policy, policy practice as well as a historical perspective on the social work profession.

Israel Doron

Professor Doron is head of the Department of Gerontology and teaches at the School of Social Work and the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa. He has a PhD from Osgood Hall Law School at York University in Toronto (2000), a law degree from the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University (1989) and an MA in Law from Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, D.C., (1993). Professor Doron has edited leading books in his field including Theories on Law and Aging: The Jurisprudence of Elder Law (2008) and Beyond Elder Law (2011). He is also the author of many articles published in international journals. He specializes in ethics and aging, social policy and aging, and the rights of senior citizens. Professor Doron is active in a variety of NGOs, and is one of the founders of the Israeli NGO, Law in the Service of the Elderly. He currently serves as a member of the board of that association and of the Israel Gerontological Society.

Yigal Ben-Shalom

Dr. Ben-Shalom has lectured over the years at Bar-Ilan, Ben-Gurion and Haifa Universities, on social policy and implementing the rights of children and youth in Israel. During his career he has served in many public positions, such as CEO of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and, among other roles, in that capacity, headed the Committee for Children and Youth at Risk. He also served as CEO of the National Insurance Institute (NII), and was involved in preparing NII for implementing laws approved during those years, including the Guaranteed Income Act, Unemployment Insurance Act and the Nursing Act. During his tenure as CEO of NII (2004-2008), a new master plan was laid out for the institution; negative income tax was introduced, and targets were set for reducing poverty and increasing employment. At the end of his tenure, Dr. Ben-Shalom returned to academics, and was appointed Head of the Social Policy Program at Beit Berl College and Vice President of the College. Dr. Ben-Shalom was chairman of the Israel Civilian Leadership Association, the umbrella organization of all non-profits in Israel. Dr. Ben-Shalom served as chairman of “Milbat”, an organization which develops aids for disabled and elderly people. Dr. Ben-Shalom represented the Voluntary Sector at the Inter-Sectoral Roundtable and was Roundtable co-chair. Currently Dr. Ben-Shalom serves as chairman of the Adler Institute, chairman of the Association to Foster Society and Culture, and chairman of the Lalan (a Jewish Agency company). He has a PhD from the University of Haifa. During his career, he has trained and studied in the United States in the field of social security.

Roni Barzuri

Roni Barzuri is a researcher studying the labor market and the field of consumerism.

 

She previously worked as coordinator of foreign worker studies in the Personnel Planning Authority of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and coordinator of the field of consumerism at the Research and Economy Administration of the Ministry of the Economy. Her recent research studies deal with the issue of fairness in commerce and business, specifically food marketing chains in Israel.

Shirley Avrami

Dr. Shirley Avrami has served as the head of the Research and Information Center at the Knesset since 2006. She has served in various capacities since 1997, including as Director of the Committee of Labor, Social Affairs and Health, and Director of the Parliamentary Research Committee on the Implementation of the Health Insurance Act. In that capacity, she participated in the International Visitor’s Program of the US State Department as part of a Knesset delegation in 2003 and 2011. Dr. Avrami teaches in the Political Science Department of the Hebrew University. She holds a PhD from the University of Haifa (2003), and an MSW (cum laude) from the School of Social Work, Hebrew University (1999).  She is also a graduate of Occupational Therapy Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1986). Dr. Avrami has won a variety of prestigious awards and scholarships including, in 2005, the prize of the Israeli Association for Parliamentarianism for her doctoral thesis, which dealt with the decision-making process in the Knesset. Recently she was appointed a member of the steering committee of the International Women’s Parliament, which will convene at the Israeli Knesset in the summer of 2016. She has published two books: His Last Letter Remains(Aharon Michtevo Yalbin) and Coins of Memory(Matbe’ot HaZikaron).

Michal Almog-Bar

Dr. Almog-Bar is a lecturer in the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare. Her major research interests are social policy and public policy in Israel; the relationship between the welfare state and the non-profit sector; processes of policy formation and policy initiatives vis-à-vis the non-profit sector; the non-profit sector and civilian society in Israel; comparative analysis of non-profit organizations, and more. She holds a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2007). Her articles have been published in leading journals in Israel and abroad, and include: “Bureaucracy, Politics and Guaranteed Income: the Policy-making Process of the Israeli Guaranteed Income Act” (National Insurance Institute); “Involvement of Israeli Non-profits in Formulating Policy for Budgetary Enactments – a Disabled Child”, published in the Journal Hevra U’Revacha ]Society and Welfare]; and the book, The Non-Profit Sector in Israel: Between the Welfare State and Civilian Society, with Binyamin Gidron and Hagai Katz (The United Kibbutz Movement).

Leah Ahdut

Professor Leah Ahdut is a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and Management of the Ruppin Academic Center, and a member of the Economics and Society Program at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. In her years of public service, she directed research departments of the National Insurance Institute, was the Director of the Institute for Economic and Social Research of the Israel National Labor Federation (1996-1999), served as Deputy Director of Research and Planning and a member of the executive board of the National Insurance Institute (2001-2006). Professor Ahdut has combined activity in the field of social policy with research in the areas of social security, the labor market and issues of poverty and income distribution. She has been charged with preparing the Report on Poverty and the annual National Insurance Institute survey. As a member of the National Insurance Institute management, she headed committees that dealt with developing information and research infrastructure, as well as social enterprises within the community. She was also a member and observer in public and governmental committees, and represented Israel in international forums in her fields of expertise. She holds an MA in economics and a BA in economics and statistics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During 1990-2006, she was a member of the Luxembourg Income Study Board and was the National Insurance Institute representative on the research committee of the International Social Security Association (ISSA). In 1995, Ahdut represented Israel in the UN preparatory committee of the Copenhagen Summit for Social Development. Ahdut serves on the editorial board of the Social Security Journal, and was its Associate Editor from 2004 to 2006.

Aviad Tur-Sinai

Tur-Sinai is a lecturer in Conflict Management and Resolution in the Social Science Faculty of Ben-Gurion University. Between 2007 and 2013,Tur-Sinai served as Senior Researcher in the Departmentof the Chief Scientistof the Central Bureau of Statistics. He has been a member ofvarious professionalforums, such as the Policy Forum on Vaccination in Israel in the Edmond J.SafraEthics Center, the Forum for Examining Israel’s Defense Budgetat the VanLeer Institute, and the Forumfor National Security Studiesat the Shmuel Ne’eman Institute. Likewise, Dr.Tur-Sinaiis a member ofthe Israel Economics Association, the Israel Psychometrics Association andthe Israel Gerontological Society. He holds a BAin Economics and Accounting,an MA in Accountingfrom the Hebrew University, completed a PhD in Economicsat Tel Aviv University(2010) and did post-doctoral research at Hebrew University. His research focuses onlabor and health economics, socioeconomics, phenomena such asagingand migration, urbaneconomics, defense economics andappliedeconometrics. His publications includeAdaptive Processes and Consumer Behavior under Uncertain Security Conditions (2009); Excess Education, Employment Mobility and Income Mobility among BA Recipients in Israel (with Dimitri Romanov and Galit Eismann, 2008); and, Employing Undergraduates and its Impact on Their Course of Studies (with Noam Zussman and Dimitri Romanov, 2007).

Yossi Tamir

Prof. Tamir is the CEO of JDC-Israel.  He previously served as the first CEO of TEVET, a joint venture of the Israeli government and the JDC, which seeks to integrate new populations into the labor force and to remove them from the cycle of poverty.  Previously, Tamir also served as CEO of Eshel, the Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Elderly in Israel, founded by the JDC and the Israeli government, and CEO of Ashalim, the Association for Planning and Development of Services for Children and Youth at Risk and their Families, in cooperation with the Israeli Government, JDC-Israel and the Jewish Federation of New York. He was also CEO of the National Insurance Institute and CEO of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. Prof. Tamir is a faculty member at the Baerwald School of Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of various boards of directors, amongst them, HaMeshakem and the Gross Fund. In the past he belonged to several public committees, including committees to reform income tax, to examine the health care system, to examine the retirement age, and the Sharon Committee to examine the rights of the disabled. Professor Tamir has a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, and an MA in economics. He is also a law school graduate and a member of the Israel Bar Association. He has authored many articles and publications in the areas of welfare and social security, which have been published in journals in Israel and around the world. Among others, he has published a book [Hebrew], Welfare Time Bomb, which deals with welfare policy in Israel.

Arie Syvan

Arie Sivan is an organizational and management consultant and executive, and deals chiefly in the field of employment and employability. He serves as director of the employment program at Association Aspberger – Israel (“Effie”), as well as director of employment skill advancement for projects for Ethiopian Israelis under the aegis of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Economy. Likewise, he advises programs that advance employment skills for various organizations in Israel and abroad. He previously served as CEO of the Adam Institute’s employee placement company, and as CEO of “Agens” Israel, which operates the Wisconsin Employment Program. He graduated from the Department of Political Science and Senior Business Management Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Ofer Setty

Dr. Setty is a lecturer at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in industrial engineering and management from Tel Aviv University, another M.A. degree in Economics from Tel Aviv University (2004) and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University (2010). Dr. Setty is a lecturer and researcher in the fields of macroeconomics and public financing. Between 2010 and 2014 he taught seminars at universities in Israel (Ben Gurion and Haifa), as well as at the University of Virginia and Penn State University in the USA, Stockholm University, and Queen Mary’s College in London. During that same period he received research grants from the Pinchas Sapir Center for Development at Tel Aviv University, the Israel Science Foundation, the European Foundation (Marie Curie) and NBER. Among his published articles: “Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Accounts: The Best of Both Worlds” (2014); “Who Cares about Unemployment Insurance?” (with Avichai Lifschitz and Yaniv Yedid-Levy, 2014); “Search and Work in Optimal Welfare Programs” (with Gianluca Violante and Nicola Pavoni, 2014).

Moshe Semyonov

Moshe Semyonov is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology and in the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University, and holds the Chair in Labor Sociology. He likewise has a tenured position as professor of sociology at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Professor Semyonov has a BA and MA in sociology and anthropology from Tel Aviv University, and an MA and a PhD in sociology from Stony Brook University in New York. In the past Professor Semyonov has served as a lecturer at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and at the University of Haifa. His research interests include migration, labor markets, mobility, social stratification, and housing.

Tali Regev

Dr. Regev is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Economics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (IDC). Dr. Regev completed doctoral studies in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006). From 2006 to 2008 she worked in the economics department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and then at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. Her research interests include the labor market and macro-economics, and in particular her research deals with unemployment, income inequality, and discrimination. Among her publications: “Signaling with Uncertain Returns” (2012); “Talent Utilization and Search for the Appropriate Technology” (with Hosni Zoabi, 2013); and “Gender Ratios at Top PhD Programs in Economics” (with Galina Hale, 2014). Alongside her work in academia, Dr. Regev is active in community affairs and was a member of the advisory forum to the Minister of Finance; the Trachtenberg Committee; the Committee of the Council for Higher Education for making higher education more accessible to disadvantaged populations; and more.

Dalia Narkis

Ms. Narkis has been chairperson of Manpower Israel since 2007, and is the Managing Director of East Mediterranean countries on behalf of the company. Initially, she served as Vice President of Human Resources at the Standards Institute. Later she established an independent company for computer studies, and in 1990 she joined Manpower, initially as director of national sales and later as CEO. Narkis holds an MBA.

Guy Mundlak

Professor Mundlak is a full professor in the Faculty of Law and the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University, and an expert in labor law. He holds a BA from the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University, and an MA and PhD from Harvard Law School. During 1995-1999, he taught law and labor studies at the University of Haifa. In 2009-2011, he served as head of the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University, and was Director of the Minerva Center for Human Rights and the editor of the Journal Avoda, Chevra U’Mishpat [Labor, Society and Law]. His publications include: Fading Corporatism: Israel’s Labor Law and Industrial Relations (2007); Ha’atzama BaMishpat [Empowerment in Law] (co-edited with Mimi Eisenstadt); and Union Density in Israel 1995-2010: The Hybridization of Industrial Relations (with Yishak Saporta, Yitchak Haberfeld, and Yinon Cohen, 2013).

Yaakov Loupo

In recent years Dr. Loupo has been involved with teaching and education and has taught history and civics at the Harel High School in Mevasseret Zion. In 1969, he completed his BA in Jewish History and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1997, he completed his MA at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and completed doctoral studies in Sociology at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 2002. He was a research fellow at the Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies in Jerusalem and won a Holocaust Memorial research scholarship jointly funded by the Jewish community and the French Government. In 1973-1976 and in 1980-1982 he served as emissary to the Jewish community in France. He is currently Director of the French Desk at the Jerusalem Foundation. His publications include:  Haredi Turning Point – Professional Training and Academic Study (2003, Hebrew); Lithuania Shas – the Lithuanian Take-over of Moroccan Torah Scholars (2004, Hebrew; 2007, French); Shall Shas Restore the Former Glory? (2004, Hebrew); Haredi Opposition to Haredi Yeshiva High Schools (2007, Hebrew); and more.

Nitsa Kasir

Dr. Kasir covers labor and welfare in the Research Department of the Bank of Israel. Additionally, Dr. Kasir participated in the Elaluf Committee on the war on poverty in Israel.

Eric Gould

Prof. Gould holds the John Alfred Weinberg Chair in Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is associate editor of the journal Labor Economics. He is also a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM). In the past, he was a research fellow at the Shalem Center. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. Gould’s research deals with a number of fields: migrants and their impact on the economy and education, wage inequality, the functioning of the marriage market, the effect of the environment on economic and social abilities, the economics of crime, and more. His research has been published in such prestigious journals as the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. In 2004, Dr. Gould received the Gregg Lewis Prize for the best paper published in the Journal of Labor Economics in the years 2002-2003.

Daniel Gottlieb

Dr. Gottlieb is Deputy Director General of Research and Planning at the National Insurance Institute, and a lecturer on economic policy and social policy at the School of Social Work in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and completed his B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Zurich and the London School of Economics, respectively. Between 1986 – 1988 Dr. Gottlieb worked as an economist for the International Monetary Fund. He then began to work as an economist in the economic unit of the Foreign Currency Department at the Bank of Israel, and later served as chief economist in the bank’s research department. He also served for 12 years as a senior consultant to BOI governors Yaakov Frenkel, David Klein, and Stanley Fischer. In his research, Gottlieb looked at issues such as monetary policy, inflation, the capital account of the balance of payments, public debt, the optimal level of the country’s foreign currency reserves, liberalization of foreign currency, macroeconomic policy, and public policy. Since 2000, Gottlieb’s research has focused on social-economic policy, in particular, on the issues of poverty and the labor market. Over the years he has published many research studies in professional journals, and has written chapters in books on economy and society.

Haggay Etkes

Dr. Etkes is an economist specializing in the labor market and welfare, and he works in the Department of Macroeconomics and Policy at the Bank of Israel. Dr. Etkes teaches in the Department of PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a graduate of the departments of Economics and the Middle East at Tel Aviv University (1999), and has an M.A. in economics and economic history from the London School of Economics (2001), an M.A. in the modern Middle East from Tel Aviv University (2003), and a doctorate in economics from the Hebrew University (2008). Etkes’ fields of interest and research are economic ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the labor market in Israel. One of his important research studies is on the effects of employment in Israel on the Palestinian workforce (2011). Among his publications:”When Trade Stops: Lessons from the 2007-2010 Gaza Blockade”, Journal of International Economics; “The Impact of Employment in Israel on the Palestinian Labor Force”, Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy; “Private Law Enforcement, Fine Sharing, and Tax Collection: Theory and Historical Evidence”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

Yohanan Shtessman

Professor Shtessman is an expert in geriatric medicine. He heads the Department of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus and is Chairman of the Department of Geriatrics at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem. He is also Medical Director of Amal Nursing Care and a member of the advisory board of the NGO Ken LaZaken (“Yes to the Elderly”).In the past, Professor Shtessman served as CEO of the National Insurance Institute and as Director of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics at Herzog Hospital, and later as Director of the hospital. Professor Shtessman also served as chairman of the Commission for Geriatric Planning for the Upcoming Two Decades. He has initiated numerous studies in the field of geriatrics and was responsible for the establishment of geriatric wards in various hospitals in Israel. Professor Shtessman has written and published more than 120 academic papers.

Yair Shapiro

Professor Yair Shapiro is director of the Heller Institute for Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. He is Professor Emeritus at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and a lecturer in medical schools throughout Israel. He also serves as Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the Ariel University Center. Professor Shapiro holds an MD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MBA from Tel Aviv University and an MA in public health from the Hebrew University. He also is a graduate of the advanced management program at Harvard Business School. In the past, Shapiro was a senior lecturer in Environmental Physiology and Medicine in the Army Medical Corps, and later served as Chief Medical Officer in the Medical Command Headquarters, Central Command. In addition, he was Chairman of the Health Forum in the Israel Management Center, Director of Soroka Medical Center and Director of Beilinson Medical Center, and served as Medical Director and Deputy CEO of Clalit Health Services. In 1996, Shapiro was chosen to serve as CEO of Assuta Medical Center, a role he held for over 15 years. His areas of expertise are occupational medicine, public health and medical management.

Haim Reuveni

Professor Haim Reuveni is a faculty member at Ben Gurion University. He is an expert in dermatology and aesthetic medicine and serves as Director of the Children’s Dermatology Unit at Soroka University Medical Center. Professor Reuveni underwent advanced training in the Dermatology Department of the Yale University Medical School. He is a member of the Israel Association for Skin Diseases, the Hospital Directors’ Association and the Association of Pediatricians. In the past, Reuveni managed the Soroka Medical Center and served as head of the medical controller division of Clalit Health Services. In addition, Professor Reuveni conducts research in health policy, administration and economics.

Meir Oren

Meir Oren is the CEO and Medical Director of the Hillel-Yaffe Medical Center, Hadera, Israel. He has held this position since 1989, except for a two year period (1995-1996) in which he served as the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Health. Additionally, he holds the academic appointment of Associate Clinical Professor at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, the Technion – the Israeli Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

 

During his military service, Dr. Oren served in the paratrooper’s brigade, IDF special forces unit and retired as a Leut. Col. (reserves).

 

Dr. Oren has served as the Chairman of the Israeli National Advisory Committee of Hospital Preparedness for Exceptional Biological Scenarios (BW, Bioterrorism, natural events) since 1996, and Chairman of the Israeli National Council for Trauma and Emergency Medicine since 2013. He is also a long standing member (since 1996), of the Israeli Advisory Committee for Nuclear Safety, appointed by the Prime Minister. Additionally, over the years, he has also served as either Chairman or member of other national medical committees (the Epidemic Management Team, the Steering Committee for Early Detection and Surveillance of Contagious Diseases),

 

Dr. Oren is a graduate of The Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University (1978), where he also earned his MSc in Pediatrics (1983). He received his MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (1985). He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Board Certified in Health Management and Administration.

 

Dr. Oren’s research interests include health policy and preparedness of the healthcare system to handle various emergency scenarios (trauma and injury control, and disaster medicine) with an emphasis on bioterrorism and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear counterterrorism.

 

Dr. Oren has published numerous scientific articles in the field of emergency preparedness and health policy and management. He has also actively participated in many international conferences as an invited speaker and participant.

 

Dr. Oren has been awarded numerous Israeli and international honors and distinctions. These include the Honorary Medal for Outstanding Achievements in the Medical Field of Public Health from the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany (2006); the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award, Israel Civil Service Commission; The Prime Minister’s Office (2009); the High End Foreign Expert, SAFEA (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs), Nanjing, China (2014); and most recently, the Oasis Friendship Award, XPCC  Headquarters , Xinjiang, China ( 2014).

Shlomo Mor-Yosef

Professor Mor-Yosef is the Director-General of the National Insurance Institute and a specialist in oncological gynecology. He holds an MA in Public Policy from Harvard University. He previously served as Director of Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Kerem, as Director of Soroka Hospital, and as consultant to Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzmann. He was also Chairman of the Legislative Regularization Committee on Pregnancy and Childbirth. Professor Mor-Yosef serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Institute of Health Services Research and Health Policy. In addition, he volunteers as a member of the management team of the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan.

Jacob Menczel

Prof. Jacob Menczel is Director of the Geriatric Department and Osteoporosis Institute at Herzog Hospital, and in the past was Director General of the hospital. He is a specialist in internal medicine and geriatrics, and his main field of research is osteoporosis. He is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the Hebrew University and Hadassah School of Medicine. At Hadassah Hospital, Prof. Menczel worked as chief physician, Director of the Metabolic Unit for Bone Diseases, and Director of Internal Medicine and the Osteoporosis Department. He also served as Director of the Internal Medicine and Geriatrics Department at Sha’arei Zedek Hospital, which he founded.

 

Between 1974 and 1978 Prof. Menczel served as DirectorGeneral of the Ministry of Health. Between 1999 and 2005, he was the national geriatrician for Maccabi Health Services. From 1996 to 2013, he chaired the Ministry of Health’s National Council of Geriatrics.

 

Prof. Menczel is a member of the associations of geriatrics, gerontology, hospital directors, and endocrinology, the advisory council of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation, and the Eshel Committee for Development of Services.

Rachel Kaye

Dr. Kaye is Deputy Director of Finance and Planning at Maccabi Healthcare Services. In the past, Kaye served as a consultant to the Polish Ministry of Health regarding the establishment of a national computerized health data system. She also taught at Hebrew University’s School of Public Health and worked as a consultant to the World Bank within the framework of the reforms being implemented in the Mexican health system. Dr. Kaye is a member of various Israeli and international health associations as well as a researcher.

Orit Jacobson

Dr. Jacobson is Deputy Director and Head of the Community Division of Clalit Health Services. She is a nurse by profession and an expert in health administration and labor studies. Jacobson previously served as Director of the Clalit’s Tel Aviv District. Today she is a member of the Health Council and the Women’s Council of Tel Aviv. She is also a member of the Council of the School of Public Health at the University of Tel Aviv and a member of HAMIL, the Executive Forum of the Israel Management Center. Dr. Jacobson also serves as a member of the steering committee and an active participant in JDC Israel, volunteering to provide assistance to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

Avi Israeli

Professor Israeli is the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Health and Professor of healthcare administration and economics at the Hebrew University, School of Public Health, Hadassah Ein Kerem. He is a specialist in internal medicine and holds an MBA from MIT in the United States. He is also a fellow of the National Institute for Health Services Research and Health Policy. Professor Israeli has served in the past as the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Director of Hadassah Hospital and Director of the Department of Healthcare Administration and Health Economics at the Medical School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he served as Chairman of the committee to expand public health services, and as chairman of the company Brainstorm.

Eran Halperin

Dr. Halperin is the Director of the Rabin Medical Center, which comprises the hospitals Beilinson and Hasharon. He is a specialist in internal medicine and holds a PhD in public administration from Harvard University. In 2011, Halperin was elected Chairman of the Hospital Association. He had previously managed the largest district and had served as Deputy Director of the Hospital Division of Clalit Health Services, and was a founder of the Krayot ambulatory care center. In addition, Dr. Halperin was a member of the Board of Directors of the company Dikla, and managed the HaEmek Medical Center in Afula.

Jonathan Halevy

Prof. Halevy has been Director-General of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem since 1988. Between 1992 and 2012, he was the Director of the hospital’s Internal Medicine Unit. Prof. Halevy is a specialist in internal medicine, digestive tract diseases and healthcare administration, and is a Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. Prof. Halevy previously served as Chair of the Israel Transplant Center, Chair of the Forum for Risk Management in the Risk Management Co. Ltd., a member of the Executive Committee of Bar Ilan University, and Chair of the Health Basket Committee. In addition, in 2007, he served as Chairman of the Council for Higher Education’s committee to examine the establishment of an additional medical school in Israel.

Eitan Hai-Am

Dr. Hai-Am is a specialist in family medicine. Previously he served as Director-General of the Ministry of Health, as District Manager of the Center and of Tel Aviv districts for Clalit Health Services, and as Director of Soroka University Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. He also served as Director of the medical malpractice division in the Madanes Insurance Company, and as CEO of the Assuta network. Dr. Chai-Am was one of the founders of the Anita Kaufmann Epilepsy Education Center and of the Child Health Center in Bat Yam. He was recognized as an honored citizen of Beersheba in 2007 for his contribution to the residents of the Negev, and was also honored with the title of “Knight of Good Government” by the Movement for Quality Government.

Iris Ginsburg

Iris Ginsburg served as Deputy Director of the Meuhedet Health Fund, as well as Vice President of Planning, Budget and Regulation and as a member of the executive team at Amitim (veteran pension funds). Ginsburg has held various positions in the Budget Division in the Ministry of Finance, including Director of Health. In addition, she has served on the public committee to expand public health services.

Zeev Feldman

Dr. Feldman is a graduate of the Medical School of Tel Aviv University. He gained specialization in Neurosurgery at the Rabin Medical Center and at Soroka Medical Center, and underwent advanced training regarding head injuries in 1990-1991 at the Baylor College of Medicine, and advanced clinical training regarding epilepsy surgery and pediatric brain surgery in the years 1995-1997 in Houston, Texas. On his return, he established and ran the pediatric neurosurgical unit at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Dr. Feldman serves as chairman of the Israeli Neurosurgical Association and chairman of the IMA World Fellowship.

Leon Epstein

Prof. Epstein is engaged in research on the subject of inequality in the health system in Israel, at the Brookdale Institute, the Taub Center, and at the School of Public Health in Jerusalem. He has served as Director of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, as an executive at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, Director of the Department of Social Medicine at Hadassah, and Director of the School of Public Health of Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof. Epstein also taught and engaged in research at the schools of Medicine and Public Health at the Hebrew University and the Technion, where he also managed the Department of Family and Community Health. In addition, Prof. Epstein taught and researched at schools of medicine and public health overseas, among others in England and in South Africa.

Asher Elhayany

Asher Elhayany is an associate professor in the Department of Health Systems Administration at Ariel University. He specializes in family medicine and has an MA in Public Administration from Harvard University. Professor Elhayany served in senior positions at Clalit Health Services, including head of decentralization in central management and Deputy Director of Soroka Medical Center. He was also Director of Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, CEO of the Meuhedet Health Fund, the Chairman of the National Council of Community Health, Chairman of the National Commission on Community Health Standards and a member of the Higher Education Council.

David Chinitz

David Chinitz holds  a PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania and  is Professor of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health of the Hebrew University and Hadassah in Jerusalem. His research and publications are in the areas of comparative health system reform, health care priority setting, management of cancer services, mental health policy, and the impact of quality improvement programs at the level of front line staff in community and hospital settings.  He has consulted for the World Health Organization, and served as President of the International Society for Priority Setting in Health Care, and  Chair of Scientific Advisory Board of the European Health Management Association,  as well as serving on the editorial advisory boards of Health Economics, Policy and Law and the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research.

Shay Brill

Dr. Shay Brill graduated cum laude from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine in 1977, and is a specialist in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. From 1990 to the present, he has been serving as CEO of Beit Rivka Geriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, from the Klalit Health Services Group. Dr. Brill has been a member of the National Council of Geriatrics since 1995, and since 1998, he has been Chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Developing Services for the Elderly at the National Insurance Institute. From 2002-2006, he was chairman of Israel Association for Geriatric Medicine. Since 2012, Dr. Brill has been the Acting Director of Tel Aviv University’s Minerva Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the End of Life. Since 2013, he has been a member of the National Committee for Implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Treatment of Dementia.

Bishara Bisharat

Dr. Bisharat is the director of the English Hospital in Nazareth, and Chair of the Society for Health Promotion in the Arab Community in the Israel Medical Association. He is also a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, and a lecturer at the School of Public Health at Haifa University. He holds an M.A. in Public Health from Harvard University, and is a graduate of the Hebrew University and Hadassah School of Medicine in Jerusalem. In the past, Dr. Bisharat has filled many different executive roles in the northern region of Clalit Health Services, and served as medical director for the district.

Shlomo Barnun

Shlomo Barnun is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts. He earned a BA in Industrial Engineering and Management from Georgia Tech and an MA and PhD in Operations Research from the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Barnun has been a faculty member at Ben Gurion University and the University of Massachusetts and was a visiting professor at the University of California, Hebrew University and NYU. His main research and teaching interests have focused on various aspects of measuring and evaluating health care. His other academic publications have dealt with, inter alia, measuring the effectiveness of clinical decision-making; assessing quality of care amongst internists; assessing the reliability of physical examinations, and more. Likewise, Professor Barnun has also been involved with designing health systems such as hospital operating rooms, pharmaceutical supply systems and hospital quality control. Professor Barnun has been a member of the editorial board of professional journals and has also served as consultant to both governmental and business organizations on a wide variety of issues affecting health policy making, implementation and assessment.

Ran Balicer

Prof. Ran Balicer is a doctor and researcher, founder and Director of the Clalit Research Institute, a partner organization of the World Health Organization for the study and prevention of chronic diseases. In these positions, Prof. Balicer is responsible for initiating and implementing new approaches to the use of information and harnessing large and complex databases (Big Data) in the service of the patient and the organization, conducting research to assess the comparative effectiveness of interventions and treatments, and using advanced research and predictive modeling tools.  At the same time, he serves as director of the Health Policy Planning Department at Clalit Health Services, which is charged with forecasting future challenges to the health system and creating a response to them in the form of strategic cross-organization plans.

 

Prof. Balicer is a faculty member in the Department of Public Health at Ben Gurion University, subject coordinator in the MPH program, and has written over 100 scientific articles in his areas of expertise. Prof. Balicer is Chair of the Israeli Society for Quality in Healthcare, an advisor to the Ministry of Health in the area of emergency preparedness, and a board member of international organizations. In his position as advisor to the World Health Organization, Prof. Balicer serves as a senator in the group of senior advisors to the WHO Regional Office in the field of monitoring and prevention of chronic diseases, and plays an active role in shaping major policy documents in these fields for the organization’s European division.

Amir Shmueli

Amir Shmueli is a professor in the School of Public Health at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is an economist and expert in health economics and inequality in the health system. In the past, he has taught and researched in various settings, including: the Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel; the JDC-Brookdale Institute; The Open University; the Gertner Institute at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer; Yale University and Stanford University. He has also served as Deputy Director of the Research Department of the National Insurance Institute. Professor Shmueli has won numerous awards for his research and is a member of several networks of international research.

Alexander Aviram

Professor Aviram is a specialist in internal medicine, nephrology and medical administration, and he serves as Scientific Director of the Israeli National Institute for Health Policy Research. Professor Aviram has served in the past as Director of both Assuta and of Hadassah Hospital in Tel Aviv (which has since closed), and as Medical Director of Maccabi Health Services. He took part in the establishment and development of the dialysis unit at Hadassah. He likewise founded and directed the Department of Nephrology at the Tel Aviv Medical Center, which simultaneously serves Ichilov Hospital and Hakirya Maternity Hospital. Aviram was previously a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, and a research fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute of the University of California. In addition, Aviram served as Director of the Israeli Center for Dialysis and Transplants, as special advisor to the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, as Acting Director of the Tel Aviv Medical Center, as Deputy Managing Director of the Hadassah Medical Organization, as a member of the Health Council and of the Health Basket Committee and Chairman of the Supreme Food Council. He holds a PhD from the Medical School at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Eran Politzer

Eran Pulitzer is an economist at the Bank of Israel, researching health issues. Pulitzer was previously the macroeconomics correspondent on Voice of Israel, Station B (Reshet Bet) of the Broadcasting Authority.

Zvi Eckstein

Professor Eckstein is Dean of the Arison School of Business, and heads the Aharon Institute of Economic Policy at IDC. He is a visiting professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, professor emeritus at the Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society. In 2006-2011, he served as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel, and in 2002-2006 he served as Chairman of the Investment Committee and Director of Provident Funds at Mercantile Discount Bank. Professor Eckstein has lectured at several leading universities in the United States, including Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University and the University of Minnesota. He holds a BA and MA in economics from Tel Aviv University, and completed a doctorate in economics at the University of Minnesota. Professor Eckstein has won many prestigious academic and professional awards in his research field and was a member of several professional committees under the aegis of the government, including the Defense Secretary’s public committee concerning shortening compulsory military service (2005) and a public committee appointed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor regarding amending the Antitrust Law. Among his recent publications are: The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 (Princeton University Press) and Immigration And Labor Mobility In Israel, 1990-2000 (MIT Press).

Mordechai Shani

Professor Shani is Dean of the School of Health Professions at the Center for Academic Studies in Or Yehuda, and serves as Chairman of the medical committee at the Medical Institute for Road Safety, which examines citizens’ eligibility to drive. For over thirty years, Professor Shani served as Director of the Sheba Medical Center. He was a member of the Netanyahu Committee for examining Israel’s health system, and the government commission appointed to formulate mental health reform in 2000. In 2005, he founded the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University, which he headed for several years. Professor Shani served for a number of years as Chairman of the Health Basket Committee. In 2007, he founded Project Motke for the elderly population in Israel, including a website and Internet training courses for seniors at subsidized prices. In 1970, he received the Albert Schweitzer Prize for humanitarian activities in the Gaza Strip and Sinai. In 2009, he was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and contribution to the health system.

Ratzon Arusi

Rabbi Dr. Arusi serves as Rabbi of Kiryat Ono and heads the City’s Rabbinical Court for monetary law. He is also a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel. Rabbi Arusi holds a BA in Law from Bar Ilan University and an MA and PhD in law from Tel Aviv University. He teaches courses at Bar-Ilan on how Jewish law can impact secular law, and gives lectures on Jewish law (Halakha) throughout Israel. In addition, he is the founder and chairman of “Halichot Am Yisrael,” an organization that focuses on Jewish tradition. In the framework of that organization, Rabbi Dr. Arusi established the Moshe Institute for the research of Rambam’s teachings, which includes a publishing house for books concerning the Rambam’s teachings. Amongst the books published are Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (two parts) – aggregated from radio lectures on topics relating to Jewish Law; Responsa Ratzon Yere’av – questions and answers on various realms of halakha and research into practical halakhic issues; Sichot HaRav BeNosei Ahdut Yisrael [The Rabbi’s talks on Jewish Unity]; and HaTorah VeChazon HaDorot [the Torah and the Vision of the Future] – analysis of the weekly Torah portion.

Dov Chernichovsky

Dov Chernichovsky (Ph.D. Economics) is a professor in emeritus of health economics and policy in the Department of Health Administration at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.  He is a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the USA, the Chair of the health policy program at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, and the Chairman of the Israeli National Nutrition Security Council. Dov has been consulting for the World Bank, where he was a staff member, has served on the board of the Israeli Cancer Society, the Israeli Family Planning Association, and the Association for the Advancement of Education in Israel. He is a member of the Baxter Prize advisory board and the editorial boards of several journals. Dov has helped establish educational and research programs in health economics and related fields in Israel.  He articulated a framework for studying health systems, known as the Emerging Paradigm; the applications of Hedonic Prices and Fuzzy Logic to the study of financing of health systems; and formulating the (no) effect of aging on aggregate healthcare costs over time. Dov was a member Israeli State (Blue Ribbon/Royal) Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Health Care System between 1998-1990. This commission outlined the reform proposal that led to the national health insurance legislation that was enacted in Israel in 1995. In 2000-2002 he served on another similar commission that prompted further reform proposals to the Israeli system. He subsequently became a health system advisor to the Israeli parliament. On behalf of the World Bank, he worked in Botswana, India, and Indonesia, and played a vital role in health system reform formulations in Romania, Russia, and now in Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica. In Russia, he helped to formulate the health insurance legislation underlying the current Russian health system.

Noam Zussman

Noam is a researcher in the Bank of Israel’s research department. His fields of interest include, among other areas, the labor market, education and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Israeli economy.

Michael Yodovitsky

Dr. Yodovitsky is the head of education for Russian-speakers in the Jewish Agency and was a staff member of Dovrat Committee of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. In his research, Yodovitsky examines language policy and society’s attitude to immigrants’ language of origin.

Miri Yemini

Dr. Yemini is a senior faculty member in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at Tel Aviv University. In addition, she serves as community head of the Israeli Sociology Society and as a member of the research team of the Van Leer Institute. Dr. Yemini holds a BA from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, an MA in Biochemistry and an MBA (with a specialization in entrepreneurship) from Tel Aviv University. She also has a PhD in Biotechnology from Tel Aviv University, and completed post-doctoral studies in the Materials Science Department of Ben-Gurion University. Between 2009 and 2011, she was a faculty member in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Shamoon College, and served as Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Head of Research at the College. Dr. Yemini has published numerous studies in the field of education and has won competitive grants from Israeli and international agencies. She was included in the TheMarker Magazine list of 40 leading Israelis under the age of 40 for 2012.

Zvi Yanai

Mr. Yanai is Principal of the prestigious Hartman Boys’ School and also teaches physics, Bible and Judaism at the institution. Prior to that, he was principal of the post-primary school of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, and also served as a teacher and educator. He holds a BA in Mathematics and Physics from the Hebrew University

Rami Sulimani

For the past 40 years Dr. Rami Suleimani has been involved in educational and social issues, with the focus on children and youth at risk.

 

His activities include initiating and developing innovative programs in the fields of education, welfare and health, with the aim of managing risk and drop-out among children and teens who are under-achieving students, new immigrants and minorities. He is involved in developing the flagship programs of JDC-Israel, primarily: promoting the achievements of under-achieving students in “new educational environment” guidance classes; the PACT program – “Parents and Children Together,” to help advance Ethiopian young children and their families; and welfare and education programs in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors. The flagship programs include “Better Together,” a community program for children and youth at risk, which reflects the transition to a system-wide approach that focuses its efforts on disadvantaged neighborhoods with a high proportion of children and teens.

 

Under Dr. Suleimani’s leadership, Ashalim has become a leading association in its field in Israel. The association’s “New Beginnings” early childhood program, which is part of the national program for children and youth at risk and in distress (implementation of the Schmid Report), is a practical expression of Ashalim’s professional standing in the educational and social action system in Israel.

 

Rami, the oldest son of immigrants from Iran, was born in the Kastina immigrant camp and educated at the Kanot youth village. He served as principal of the Science and Technology Education Center for Youth in Jerusalem, where JDC-Israel developed the “Mifneh” program for marginalized youth. As principal of the school, Rami led the development team and also supervised the program’s implementation during its first five years.

 

Rami holds a B.A. in Geography and Education, an M.A. in Criminology from the Hebrew University, an M.A. in Social Sciences from Haifa University, and a Ph.D. from the Centre for Education Studies at Sussex University in England. His doctoral dissertation dealt with the study of issues in the process of leading change within the education system. His research was published as a book, “They Are Learning Again,” published by JDC-Ashalim.

  • In November 1997 Rami was awarded the Knesset Speaker’s Quality of Life Award, in recognition of his achievements in promoting youth education in Israel.
  • On Independence Day, 2001, he received honorary citizenship from Kiryat Malachi, the town in which he was born. This was awarded for his numerous activities and contribution to promoting the education system and immigrant absorption in the town.
  • In 2012 Rami was included in the list of the 50 most influential educators in Israel, published in Ha’aretz newspaper.
  • In July 2014, Rami completed a National Security College course.

 

Rami is married with three children, and lives in Mevasseret Zion.

Sidney Strauss

Sidney Strauss is Professor Emeritus of Education at Tel Aviv University. He is a member of the American National Academy of Education (NAEd), and was Chief Scientist of the Education Ministry. Previously, Strauss held the Branco Weiss Chair for Research in Child Development and Education, and served as chairman of the Department of Child Development and Education at the School of Education at Tel Aviv University. He also founded and directed the Center for Improving Teaching at Tel Aviv University. His main research interests are cognitive development and education; development of teaching skills in children; mental models amongst adults regarding thinking and learning processes in children, and the impact of these models on the educational methodology of teachers.

Kemal Shufniyah

Dr. Shufniya researches minorities in education, leadership in education, social mobility, multiculturalism, educational change in a multicultural society and the history of education in Israel. In the past, Dr. Shufniya was principal of the high school in Shfar’am. He was also elected inspector for the Druze and Circassian sectors of the Northern District. He won the District Education Prize for 2013.

Yehudit Shalvi

Yehudit Shalvi is CEO of Avney Rosha, the Israeli Institute for Educational Leadership. She holds an MA in administration and educational leadership from Tel Aviv University, and is a graduate of the Kerem Institute, which prepares teachers for Jewish-humanistic education. Shalvi previously served as Deputy Director-General of the Jerusalem Municipality and headed the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA). Likewise, she was in charge of secondary education in Jerusalem, and ran the Givat Gonen Junior-Senior High School in Jerusalem. Between 2003 and 2008, she was a member of the steering committee of the Initiative for Applied Research in Education.

Rita Sever

Dr. Rita Sever is a senior lecturer and senior researcher (retired) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the School of Education and the Research Institute for Innovation in Education.  She holds a Ph.D. in Social-Cognitive Psychology; is a member of the editorial board of the online journal Hagira (The Israel Journal of Migration); a member of the European Evaluation Society (EES) and the Israeli Psychometric Association (ISPA) council, and chair of the 2015 ISPA conference.

 

For many years, Dr. Sever has been involved in evaluation studies in social sciences and education, and research on coping with multiple cultures, migration and immigrant absorption. In the NCJW Institute for Innovation in Education, she established and directed a unit for the development, implementation and study of models addressing intercultural encounters in various areas of Israeli society. She also developed and/or directed intra-organizational evaluation units in both the non-profit and government sectors, and established new evaluation bodies in large non-profit organizations.

 

Today, she is an independent consultant to associations and government offices in determining policy, measurement and evaluation, migration, cultural diversity, multiculturalism, and excluded groups. She is a lector for a number of publishers and scientific journals, and writes opinions on research proposals and evaluation reports, position papers, project proposals, etc. Sever has presented at international conferences around the world, and participated in the Expert Meetings of the International Council of Social Work (ICSW). Her papers have been presented at international conferences in Israel and abroad, and published in books and journals. Among other things, she has authored the following chapters:

  • Evaluating Second Chance Educational Programs:   A Conceptual Framework”In:  Second Chance in Education (1990)
  • Learning from Experience? Israeli Schools and the Task of Immigrant Absorption” In:  Russian Jews on Three Continents, Migration and Resettlement. (1997)
  • Patterns of Coping with the Task at Schools” In: Children of Perestroika in Israel (1999)
  • Marginalization and De-marginalization of Immigrants:  Diversity-Management Strategies in Education” In:   Migration, Culture Conflict and Crime. (2002)
  • Evaluation and the Educational Counselor” In: Counseling in school in a changing society (2004) (Hebrew)
  • ”The Language of Integration – Using Active Encouragement of Mother-Tongue Maintenance and Inter-Cultural Bridgemaking to Enhance Immigrant Integration” In: Education in a Multi-cultural Society  (2007) (Hebrew)
  • “FSU Immigrants in Israel and the Israeli Education System  –  Systemic Policy and Patterns of Coping in the Field” In: Old Roots in New Soil – the adjustment of FSU immigrants in Israel in the new millennium (2012)  (Hebrew)
  • Extra Fragile in Disaster –People with Disabilities in a Bombarded Zone”  In: Disaster Management – Enabling Resilience (2014)
  • “ICT, Migrant Networks and Transnational Identity” In: Identity and Intercultural communication(Forthcoming)

David Nevo

David Nevo is Professor Emeritus in the School of Education at Tel Aviv University. He previously served as head of the School of Education at the University, and was chief scientist at the Ministry of Education and a member of the Steering Committee of the Applied Education Research Initiative. Nevo holds a PhD in educational assessment from Ohio State University, and is an expert in various aspects of that field. Professor Nevo has engaged in evaluating programs and initiatives in the Israeli education system, and today he is engaged in developing assessment programs in schools in Israel and abroad. He also explores the significance of integrating a school’s internal and external evaluations.

Yael Navon

Yael Navon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She has a BA in economics and philosophy and a master’s degree in sociology from Tel Aviv University. As part of her doctoral work, Navon has been dealing with the question of the effect of bonds within the family cell, and especially of sibling characteristics, on academic outcome. Navon teaches statistics in the Department of Nursing at Tel Aviv University, and her areas of expertise are sociology of education, stratification and inequality, and quantitative research methods.

Zemira Mevarech

Professor Mevarech is a lecturer in Education and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Bar-Ilan University. She holds a BA in mathematics, physics and education from the Hebrew University, an MA in education from Bar Ilan University and a PhD from the University of Chicago. Professor Mevarech served as head of the School of Education and Vice Provost at Bar-Ilan University, and headed the Integration Institute of the Center for Science Education as well as the university’s E-Learning Center. Mevarech has likewise served as Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and represented the State of Israel in the Education Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Professor Mevarech was Senior Researcher on Israel’s behalf in two international PISA research projects, as well as a member in international committees dealing with educational research. She headed the Meta-cognition Group of the European Organization for Research in Education and Learning (EARLI) and was on the editorial boards of various international periodicals. In recent years, she has headed the Education Ministry’s National Committee for Advancing Gifted and Outstanding Students. She is likewise a member of the steering committee of the Applied Education Research Initiative. Mevarech’s research deals with meta-cognitive teaching methods in science in general and mathematics in particular.

David Maagan

David Maagan is head of the statistics department for the Central Bureau of Statistics Higher Education and Teaching Staff Sector .In this position, he is responsible for developing statistics on teaching personnel in the education system, and developing statistical forecasts for the education system. David has an M.A. degree in sociology from the Hebrew University, and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Education at Bar Ilan University.

 

In the course of his work, David has carried out a series of research studies, presented at professional conferences, on different aspects of the teaching workforce, student achievements, and long-term follow-up of different population groups in the education system. Among other things, his research on “Future achievements of GEMS (MEITZAV) takers in Israel” was presented at the Israel Economic Association conference, 2014; “The Ofek Hadash (New Horizon) Reform: to what extent, if at all, has the reform led to an improvement in the attractiveness of the teaching profession and the achievements of students in the education system in Israel?” was presented at the Israel Economic Association conference in 2013; “Inflation in Matriculation Scores in Israel” was presented at the Israeli Psychometric Association conference, 2013; and “Educational achievements of recipients of undergraduate degrees in Israel” was presented at the conference of the Israel Statistical Association in 2012.

 

In addition, David is a policy fellow (education) in the Education Policy program at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. He was also a member of the Ministry of Education committee examining the preparation of teachers for the Arab sector; a member of the RAMA (National Authority for Assessment and Evaluation of the Education System) steering committee for the international TALIS Survey (OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey); and an observer on the Dovrat Commission sub-committee for teachers’ salaries (the national task force for promoting the education system). He has also represented Israel in OECD work groups of the INES Network On Labour Market, Economic and Social Outcomes of Learning (Rotterdam, 2009; Paris, 2009; Copenhagen, 2010).

Meir Kraus

Meir Kraus is the director of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.  He holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science, and an M.A. in Jewish philosophy from Hebrew University.  He has held numerous senior positions, including:  Director of the Education Administration of the Jerusalem Municipality, head of the Administration for Equal Opportunity in Education, and the International Chief of Operations for Taglit-Birthright.  Kraus is an expert on public policy.  He has participated in leading many reforms in the education system and served as an advisor for national policy planning in a variety of spheres.

Eli Eisenberg

Dr. Eisenberg serves as Senior Deputy Director General and Head of Research, Development and Training in ORT. He works to improve pedagogical services and to raise the level of studies and teaching in the network’s schools. He has a BA, MA and a Doctorate of Science in Technology Education from the Technion in Haifa. In the past he was a member of the team that established the Technology Center in England, served as a faculty member at the Technion, and was a researcher at the Open University in England. He was also a member of the staff that founded a comprehensive technology education system under the aegis of World ORT in South Africa. In addition, Dr. Eisenberg co-authored the committee report examining the technological fields of study of the Ministry of Education (2004).

Isaac Friedman

Prof. Friedman is head of the M.A. degree program in the administration of education systems at Achva College. He has a Ph.D. in education administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the past, he was Director of the Henrietta Szold Institute, and was also a senior researcher there. Prof. Friedman was an Associate Professor of the School of Education at the Hebrew University, and head of the Students Department in the Ministry of Education and Culture. He was a member of the initiative for applied research in education until 2010. His fields of research and expertise are the psychometric examinations, measurement and assessment of social and educational programs, organizational psychology in public administrative systems (particularly in education systems), contacts between parents and school, and community schools. Prof. Friedman has recently been focusing on the implications of brain studies on education systems, teaching, and learning, with the aim of improving the training and performance of teachers.

Yariv Feniger

Dr. Yariv Feniger is a faculty member in the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Feniger earned his BA in International Relations from Hebrew University and his MA and PhD in sociology and anthropology from Tel Aviv University. He also completed post-doctoral studies at the Hebrew University. Dr. Feniger’s academic interests are inequality in society and education, as well as gender-related, ethical and religious perspectives on education and educational policy. His current research focuses on social gaps in higher education in Israel, and on the impact of national and international tests on learning, teaching and educational policy.Dr. Feniger was co-editor of the collection of articles entitled The Politics of Difference in Israeli Education: A View from Below, published by the Van-Leer Institute of Jerusalem; and Equal Opportunity in Education: Developments in Theory and Research, published by Mofet, in press.  He has recently published articles in the following academic periodicals: Social Forces; Sex Roles; Comparative Education; Social Science Quarterly; Race Ethnicity and Education; and the Journal of Education Policy.

Dalia Fadila

Dr. Fadila is the Director of Al-Qasemi College for Science and Engineering in Baka al-Garbiyyeh and heads the School for Practical Engineers at the College.  She also lectures at the Lauder School for Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.  She has served in numerous administrative positions at the College, including as Dean of Students, Academic Coordinator and Vice-President of the College.  She was a senior lecturer in the English Teaching Department, and established and ran the College’s International Affairs Division.  Dr. Fadila led a delegation of Arab and Jewish women to Temple University in Philadelphia through the Fulbright Program.  In addition to her work at al-Qasemi College, she is an active member of the board of trustees of the Mofet Institute, and serves as a public representative on the Civil Service Committee.  In 2008, Dr. Fadila founded Q School – a school for English and human resource development.  Her areas of specialization include Arab society in Israel, leadership, and women’s leadership, and she has lectured on these topics at international forums, such as TED and the GA.  Dr. Fadila is a graduate of two international leadership programs:  The International Leadership Program in the USA, and the EU Visitors Program (European Union).

Yigal Douchan

Yigal Duchan is the information coordinator for the Ministry of Education’s Administration for Telecommunications and Information Systems.  In 2010, Duchan headed the “Overview” program – an Education Ministry site that presents data on Israel’s schools and educational institutions.  In addition, Mr. Duchan was a senior participant in founding “Owl” – the Ministry of Education’s Internet portal.

Inas Deeb

Dr. Deeb is Director of the Education Division of the Yad BeYad Association, and as part of her job she supervises educational staff in implementing the organization’s educational principles in the its schools and preschools. She has a BA in education from Oranim College, a master’s degree in education from the Hebrew University, a master’s degree in adult education and organizational development from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a doctorate from Bar Ilan University. In 2013, Dr. Deeb won the Matanel Education Prize from the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.

Carmel Blank

Ms. Blank is a PhD student of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University and has an MA in sociology. She teaches Introduction to Sociology and Statistical and Research Methods at Tel Aviv University. She serves as vice chairman of the junior faculty at Tel Aviv University. From 2009 to 2011, she was a research assistant to Professor Avi Gottlieb, Dr. Dorit Kerret and Professor Gila Menachem of Tel Aviv University on the topic of the environmental activities of local authorities. Among her publications are: “School Discipline in Israel”, in Improving Learning Environments: School Discipline and Student Achievement in Comparative Perspective, Stanford University Press; and Stratification and Educational Returns in Israel: A Comparative Research on Inequality in Educational Returns in 14 Countries. 

Shlomo Beck

Prof. Beck is a faculty member in the Education Department of Kaye College for Education in Beersheba, and heads the teacher training MA program. He served as president of the college from 1992 to 2009, and headed the Forum of Heads of Academic Teachers’ Colleges. In the past Professor Beck was coordinator of internships for teacher trainers in disciplinary fields at the MOFET Institute. He is a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of “Kadima Mada,” which deals with the promotion of science and technology in the education system. Professor Beck has published numerous articles in the field of education and teacher training, and in 2005 his book was published. His publications include: “Technical Work as a Vision in Teacher Training” (2005), and the book, Ways of Learning to Teach (2012, Hebrew edition in 2014). The book, Information, Knowledge and Opinion: The DNA of Education, which he edited, is coming out soon through the MOFET Institute.

Hanna Ayalon

Hanna Ayalon is Professor Emerita of the Sociology of Education at Tel Aviv University. She headed the University’s Department of Educational Policy (1995-1999) and its Department of Sociology and Anthropology (2005-2007). Her areas of interest are inequality in education, education reform, comparative studies and quantitative research methods. Professor Ayalon has published many articles on education-related topics; she has also written books, including Curriculum as a Social Construction.

Shlomit Amichai

Ms. Amichai serves as the Director-General of ELKA, the Human Resources Development Association of JDC-Israel, and heads the organization’s Division for Volunteers and Philanthropy.  She holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Hebrew University, and an M.A. in Educational Administration from Tel Aviv University.  In the past, Amichai has held various positions at the Ministry of Education, including Department Director in the Ministry’s Budget Division, Director of the Examinations Division, responsible for implementation of the Harari Report on the Advancement of Science and Technology, Deputy Director of the Pedagogic Administration, Deputy Director-General for Administration, and Assistant Director-General and head of the Teaching Personnel, Training and Professional Development Administration.  In addition, she served as Director-General of the Ministry of Education from 1999-2001.  During her years of service, Amichai has worked on various committees and headed the Ministry’s Tenders and Purchases Committee.

Chaim Adler

Chaim Adler is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He holds an M.A. in Sociology and Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the Hebrew University, and studied the sociology of education at Columbia University in New York. He has also been a visiting fellow and researcher at the Universities of Harvard, Chicago, Stanford and Rutgers. Adler is a pioneering researcher in the field of the sociology of education in Israel. In 2006, he received the Israel Prize for education. His research deals with, among other things, the study of adolescence and adolescents, promoting young people from disadvantaged groups, and absorbing immigrant youth. Between 1966 and 1996, Adler headed the Sociology of Education track and was Director of the Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University’s School of Education. Prof. Adler later served as Director of the School of Education at the Hebrew University, and head of the Education Studies section of the Mandel Institute of Educational Leadership. Prof. Adler was a founding partner of the Manof Youth Village for marginalized youth, and served as Chair of the Village Association board. He has also been a member of various public and government committees, among them: the Prime Minister’s Public Committee to Examine the Problems of Youth in the Morasha Neighborhood of Jerusalem, the Sub-committee for Informal Education and Community Work, and the Ministry of Education’s Public Committee to Examine Alternatives to School for Marginalized Youth (as Chair). Prof. Adler was a member of the Taub Center’s Board of Governors, and served as head of the education policy program at the Center.

Yossi Shavit

Yossi Shavit is the Weinberg professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University. He specializes in the study of stratification processes with an emphasis on education and educational policy. He is also studying ethnic relations and immigration. Currently, he is conducting (with Dr. Uri Shwed) a study of Arab-Jewish mixed schools in Israel. Under funding from the Jacobs Foundation, the study maps the social relations between Arab and Jewish students who attend mixed schools.
Shavit has also led several internationally comparative studies on social inequality. These include a study of stability and change in inequality of educational opportunity (Persistent Inequality, 1993); a study on country differences in the way young people make their way from school to the labor market (From School to Work, 1998), and on inequality in higher education (Stratification in Higher Education, 2007). He has also published many research papers on social inequality, ethnic relations and education in Israel and elsewhere.
Shavit completed his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and won Alon and Spencer fellowships. He has previously served as Professor at the European University Institute and is a member of the prestigious Sociological Research Association. Until recently, he served as the President of the Israeli Sociological Association, and now heads the Taub Center’s Educational Policy Program.

Yarom Ariav

Yarom Ariav served as Director-General of the Ministry of Finance from 2007-2009. In this capacity, he guided the Israeli economy through the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 with notable success, and was responsible for formulating and implementing Israeli economic policy both before and during the crisis. Ariav chaired the steering committee that oversaw Israel’s OECD membership process, and played a key role in instituting major economic and social reforms. Before entering government service, Ariav was CEO of ICL Fertilizers Europe from 2002-2006; during his tenure as CEO he merged and managed all of the firm’s production and marketing activities in Europe. Prior to that, he held a number of positions in Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), including company representative to South America; he served as the Director of the company SQM in Chile, Senior Vice President of Marketing at the company Rotem Amfert and Senior Vice President of Marketing at ICL Fertilizers. From 1985-1993, Ariav worked in the Budget Department of the Ministry of Finance; among the positions he held was that of Deputy Director of Budgets, responsible for the budgets of economics-related ministries. During this time, he was intensely involved in formulating policy aimed at encouraging research and development; he advanced the establishment of the Yozma Group and spearheaded reforms in the import, energy and agricultural spheres, among others. Since leaving the Ministry of Finance, Ariav has been involved in initiating and implementing economic and social-oriented projects. He is the Executive Chair of Lavi Capital, an investment bank that specializes in infrastructure, with an emphasis on Europe. He chairs the Lod Foundation and the investment committee of Amitim Pension Funds. He is also an external director of the company Alony Hetz and chair of the Tel Aviv Global & Tourism initiative.

Ben Zion Zilberfarb

Prof. Zilberfarb is Dean of the School of Banking and the Capital Market at Netanya Academic College, and Associate Professor of Economics at Bar Ilan University. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration, an M.A. in Economics from Bar Ilan University, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Prof. Zilberfarb served as Director General of the Ministry of Finance between 1998 and 1999. He has also served as head of the Department of Economics and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Bar Ilan University, head of the Economic Planning Authority, a director of Bank Leumi pension funds, a consultant in the privatization of El Al, and consultant to various financial bodies. Prof. Zilberfarb has been a member of the board of directors of many companies, among them: Fundtech, Clal Provident and Study Funds, and Partner. In addition, Prof. Zilberfarb was Director of the Azrieli Institute for Research on the Israeli Economy, and Director of the Institute for Economic Research at Bar Ilan University, as well as a senior researcher at the Israeli International Institute. He currently serves as a Director of Pri Gan, Brimag Digital Age, and the Delek Group. He is a member of the investments committee of Shenkar College, Bar Ilan University, the USA-Israel Binational Fund, the Israel Electric Corporation pension fund, and others. Prof. Zilberfarb is the author of the book Privatization of Public Enterprises in Israel and Abroad, together with Shlomo Ekstein and Shimon Rosevich, and has published dozens of articles in professional journals on the subject of Israel’s economy, and in particular on inflation, privatization, linkage, finance markets, and foreign trade.

Shlomo Yitzhaki

Prof. Yitzhaki is an economist specializing in public funding. In 2001, he was appointed as the government’s Chief Statistician, a position he held until the end of 2012.  He was also a Professor in the Department of Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Between 1995 and 1998, Yitzhaki served as Director of the Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel, and between 1993 and 1994, he was Director of the Sapir Forum for Economic Policy. He was a visiting scientist at the International Monetary Fund and the US National Bureau of Economic Research, and advisor to various departments of the World Bank. He also served as an advisor to the Ben Shahar Committee (1975), and was a member of the Ben Bassat Committee (2000) dealing with income tax reforms. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and between 1975 and 1977, was a visiting scholar in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

Michel Strawczynski

Professor Strawczynski is head of the Economics and Society Program at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. For a decade, he served as Deputy Director of the Bank of Israel’s Research Department. He has also been the Department’s Chief Economist, economic advisor to the Israel Electric Corporation and to the National Coal Supply Corporation on behalf of the company “Amical,” and an economist in the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure’s Planning and Policy Department. Strawczynski holds a doctorate in Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and completed his postgraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2012 Strawczynskijoined the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as an adjunct associate professor, in a joint appointment of the Department of Economics and the Federmann School of Public Policy and Government. In this capacity, he serves as academic director of the Institute’s Civil Service Cadets program. Strawczynski’s research addresses issues of taxation, transfer payments, government fiscal policy and the Israeli economy. His publications include: “Government Policy regarding Young Parents,” “Cyclicality of Statutory Tax Rates,” ” Cyclicality of Fiscal Policy in Israel,” and “What Determines Education Expenditure in Israel?” He also co-edits the Israel Economic Review.

Avia Spivak

Prof. Spivak is a faculty member in the Department of Economics at Ben Gurion University. In the past, he served as head of the Department of Economics, and dean of the university’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Between 2002 and 2006, Spivak was Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel. Since 2006, he has been a senior fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, a member of the board of directors of banks and pension funds, and a regular columnist for the financial newspaper Calcalist. In the summer of 2011, Prof. Spivak headed the Spivak-Yonah team of experts together with Prof. Yossi Yonah; comprised of committees of independent experts, the team offered an alternative to the Trajtenberg Committee. The team’s conclusions were compiled as a book: To Do Things Differently – A Model for a Well-Ordered Society.

Shmuel Slavin

Shmuel Slavin is an economist, and heads the Committee to Implement the Gavison-Medan Covenant. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education. Slavin has held a broad range of management and consultancy positions. He was the financial advisor to the Energy Minister, and CFO of Tourism Enterprises and Aviation Services. Following this, he served as financial advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and Director-general of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. He was also assistant CEO of the Yediot Aharonot Group and CEO of the Mifal Hapayis Lottery. In 1997 he was appointed Director-general of the Finance Ministry, a position he held for a year. He then turned to the private sector and served as director and chair of the board of directors of various companies, among them the real estate company Mehadrin, Israel News, and chair of the Mivtachim pension fund. Slavin also served as Chair of the Public Council for Child Welfare. Slavin holds a B.A. in Economics and International Relations, a B.A. in History and Philosophy, and an MBA, all from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Eytan Sheshinski

Prof. Eytan Sheshinski is an emeritus lecturer in economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the Sir Isaac Wolfson Emeritus Professor of Public Finance at the university. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from the Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Sheshinski has served as guest professor at many universities, among them Stanford, Harvard, Brown, MIT, and Columbia in the USA. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, an overseas member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, and an honorary member of the American Economic Association, and holds an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics. In December 2011, Sheshinski was awarded the title of Knight of Quality Government. Prof. Sheshinski is an economic adviser to the Knesset and an adviser on welfare in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 1987, he headed the Sheshinski Commission, drawing up a reform in income tax for individuals, and in 1995 was a member of the committee for the privatization of government companies. In addition, he headed the Sheshinski Commission for examining gas and petroleum taxation policy on Israel (whose recommendations were approved by the Knesset in the Petroleum and Gas Law 2011), and has recently headed a committee examining the taxation of other natural resources in Israel. Sheshinski has chaired many public and private companies, among them the Board of Directors of Koor Industries Ltd., and the boards of Tadiran, Machteshim Agan Industries, and the Psagot Investment House. Prof. Sheshinski was president of the Israel Economic Association between 2004 and 2006. In 2007, his book The Economic Theory of Annuities was published.

Haim Shani

Haim Shani is chair of the British-Israeli Technologies Centre, and a partner in the IGP technology investments fund. Between 2009 – 2011 he served as Director-general of the Finance Ministry. He was also Chair of the Centralization Committee, the committee established by the Israeli government in 2011 to formulate solutions to the problem of centralization in the economy. He holds a B.A. degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Technion, and an M.A. degree from INSEAD Business School in France. Shani previously held senior positions in the field of high-tech and technology, among them CEO of Nice, and VP of Marketing, Sales and Global Business Development at Orbotech.

Assaf Razin

Prof. Razin was born on Kibbutz Shamir in 1914. He is a member of the Faculty of Economics at Cornell University in New York and professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University. He has a BA and MA in Agricultural Economics from the Rehovot branch of Hebrew University, and an additional MA in economics and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago. Razin taught at the University of Minnesota and then at Tel Aviv University, and also served in several administrative posts in that institution: Chairman of the Economics Department, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, 1981-1986, and Deputy Provost 1993-1994. In 2001 he joined the Cornell University faculty and has served as a guest lecturer at many universities across the United States: the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Princeton University, Northwestern University, UC Berkeley, Yale University and Stanford University. He likewise taught at the London School of Economics and the University of Munich. Professor Razin served as a consultant in various institutions: the International Monetary Fund; the Bank of England; the Bank of Israel and the Honk Kong Monetary Authority. In 1979, he served a short time as Director of the Economic Planning Authority in the Ministry of Finance. In addition, he served as President of the Israel Economic Association and as External Director of Bank Yahav and of the First International Bank of Israel. Razin has written books and has published numerous articles in the world’s leading scientific journals, such as the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Econometrica. His most recent publication was Understanding Global Crises, published by MIT.

Dan Peled

Professor Peled is on the faculty of the University of Haifa’s Department of Economics and a Senior Research Fellow at the Technion’s Samuel Neaman Institute. He also serves as Senior Consultant to the University of Haifa’s Vice President and Dean of Research. Professor Peled is a past head of the University’s Department of Economics and of the Economics of National Security (ENS) program at the Samuel Neaman Institute. Before joining the University of Haifa’s academic staff, Professor Peled was a faculty member at the Technion and at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. Professor Peled is involved in academic research and in public policymaking on topics related to economic growth, the economics of research and development, the economics of national security, innovation and technology, and monetary economics. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota (1980).

Yehoshua (Shuki) Oren

Shuki Oren is CEO of the Kardan NV real estate company. Oren previously worked in the Banking Supervision Department at the Bank of Israel, and the Accountant General’s Department in the Finance Ministry, initially in the External Debt Management Department and later as Manager of the Foreign Currency Department. As of 1989, Oren served as Deputy Accountant General and was the supervisor of budget implementation in the Ministries of Industry, Labor and Trade, Agriculture, Energy, Science, and Tourism. He also managed implementation of the kibbutz debt arrangement, the Gal Law, and the Koor arrangement. Oren later served in senior management positions at U-Bank, and in 2001-2002 served as Deputy CEO of the bank. He later moved to the Bank Leumi group and managed Bank Leumi Switzerland. Between 2007 and 2011 he served as Accountant General in the Finance Ministry. He holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Business Administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jack Habib

Jack Habib is Emeritus Professor of Economics and Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Director of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. He previously served as Executive Director of JDC-Israel. Prof. Habib holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. He has written books on social welfare, and conducted numerous research studies on poverty and social gaps, social policy, and the effectiveness of social intervention systems. He is also a member of the evaluation team for the program “From Welfare to Employment,” and the Wisconsin program (today called “Lights to Employment”). Prof. Habib has been a member of many public committees, among them the Public Committee to Examine the Definition of Poverty. He is an advisor to the United Jewish Communities in the United States and an active member of the Jewish communities’ inter-organizational task force to advance the position of Arabs in Israel.

Reuben Gronau

Prof. Gronau is an Emeritus Professor at the Hebrew University, and a member of the Bank of Israel’s Monetary Committee (since 2011). He is Chair of the Public Council for Statistics, of the Executive Committee of the Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel, and of the Sapir Forum for Economic Policy. Prof. Gronau holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Economics from the Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University (1967). From 1967 until his retirement in 2005, he was a member of the Economics Department at the Hebrew University. During his years at the university, he served as visiting professor at many universities, among them the University of Chicago, Stanford, MIT, and the University of California. In 2008, Prof. Gronau was awarded the Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Contribution to Labor Economics by the Society of Labor Economics (SOLE), and in 2005 he won the Mifal Hapayis Michael Landau Award for Research on the Economy of Israel. During his career, Prof. Gronau chaired and was a member of a number of government and public committees: The Committee to Examine the Structure of the Refineries Sector in Israel, Committees to Determine Telecommunications Rates, the Committee for Setting Municipal Water Corporation Rates, the Committee for Formulating Rules of Competition in Communications, and the Shochat Committee to Examine Higher Education. He also chaired the Public Committee for Setting Knesset Member Salaries.

Doron Cohen

Doron Cohen is an accountant and economist and is engaged in business consultation and entrepreneurship. In addition, he is president of the IIA (Israel Internal Auditors Association), head of the Haredi project at the Israel Democracy Institute, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Discount Investment Co., and the Peer Review Institute. Between 2011 and 2013, Cohen served as Director-General of the Finance Ministry, and between 2009 and 2012, he headed the Government Companies Authority. He also served as economic adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. Cohen was active in private business ventures in the international market and held a number of senior management positions, among them as accountant and internal auditor of Israel Chemicals Ltd, VP of Elite International B.V., VP Finance of the Dapei Zahav group, and Chair of the Board of Directors and CEO of the company Amidar. Cohen has participated in a number of committees for improving public service: the Strategy Committee, which formulated economic and social strategy for the government; the Governance Committee, which worked on increasing transparency and cooperation in preparing the government budget; and the Committee for Improving Public Service, in which Cohen headed the team for improving management flexibility and differential wages, and strengthening human capital. He holds a BA in Economics and Accounting from Tel Aviv University, and an MA in Law from Bar Ilan University.

Adi Brender

Dr. Brender is head of the Macroeconomics and Policy Division at the Bank of Israel. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the Hebrew University, an M.A. in Economics and Business Administration from the Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University. Dr. Brender previously worked in the International Monetary Fund, after which he joined the Research Division of the Bank of Israel and served as head of the Fiscal Section. In this position, Brender was responsible for the public sector field and dealt with analyzing the state budget and its macro-economic implications, taxation and allocations policy, and reforms in the area of pensions. Over the years, he has published many articles on the subject of fiscal policy, the labor market, and political economics, as well as participated in various committees and teams dealing with economic policy issues. Among his publications: “Government Policy with Regard to Young Parents” (2014); “Elections, Leaders, and the Composition of Government Spending” (2013); “The First Year of Operation of the Mandatory Pension Arrangement: Compliance with the Arrangement and Potential Implications on the Supply of Work” (2011); “The Impact of Pension Savings Arrangements in Israel on the Division of Income” (2011); “Predicting Government Tax Revenue and Analyzing Forecast Uncertainty” (2010); “Consolidation of New Democracy, Mass Attitudes, and Clientelism” (2009); “Taxation Rates on Income from Work in Israel in an International Perspective:  2008-2009” (2009); “How Do Budget Deficits and Economic Growth Affect Reelection Prospects? Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries” (2008); “The Effect of Changes in Labor Market Conditions on the Scope of Women’s Positions: Differences Between Voluntary and Involuntary Part-time Workers” (2008).

September 2014 Bulletin

Other Taub Center research has been prominently discussed over the past couple of months in the Knesset, with Center researchers presenting findings in a number of different Knesset committee meetings and hearings on issues ranging from housing to pensions. These include a broader keynote address at a special Knesset committee meeting attended by MKs and about 150 young Israelis active in social causes, non-profits and youth centers.

July 2014 Bulletin

This bulletin showcases the range of research insights from our State of the Nation Report 2013, including analyses of Haredi education trends, Israel’s dwindling supply of doctors and nurses and productivity data across various economic branches in the country.

September 2013 Bulletin

The three articles in this summer’s Bulletin highlight three different areas in need of serious reconsideration and revamping – personal debt and credit, municipal amalgamation, and labor productivity. A change in any one of these three areas would have an impact at both the individual and national levels.

March 2013 Bulletin

On the one hand, Israel’s socioeconomic situation in recent years is relatively good when compared to Western countries that still have not emerged from the deep recession. On the other hand, as the election results indicate, an increasing share of the public opinion has begun to internalize the magnitude and implications of the very problematic long-run socioeconomic trajectories that the country is situated on and is demanding fundamental changes while such changes are still possible. Israel’s core socioeconomic issues are the Taub Center’s primary focus and our findings and analyses on these issues are prominently displayd in the Center’s annual State of the Nation Reports and in other publications available on our website.

December 2012 Bulletin

Michael Shalev’s research on the young middle class reveals striking findings regarding some of the underlying reasons for the wide-spread summer protests of 2011. When Israelis talk about high prices, the cost of gasoline is right up there; and in contrast to the government’s claim that oil price hikes caused the steep increase in prices over the past four years, it turns out that tax increases are the primary culprit. Eran Yashiv finds that the new and more complete labor force surveys indicate that unemployment among Arabs is much greater than what had been known until recently. All of these issues and much more are covered in considerably more detail in the TaubCenter’s Singer Annual Report Series State of the Nation Report 2011-2012.

August 2012 Bulletin

The land of Israel was never blessed with water, and one of the world’s leading researchers in this field, Professor Yoav Kislev, provides a glimpse at how Israel is dealing with this vital lifeline. One natural resource that Israel has been blessed with is its children, and some findings from a major new Taub Center study on the country’s preschools are highlighted here. Finally, another area in which Israel stands out is its relatively low share of single-parent families. But as Professor Haya Stier finds, these Israeli families tend to be disproportionately poor.

December 2011 Bulletin

One of the articles in this bulletin provides empirical corroboration for this public sentiment. While these issues brought people out into the streets in 2011, they represent only the tip of the socioeconomic iceberg facing Israel – issues that are covered in depth on an ongoing basis by the Taub Center’s Policy Programs and researchers.

September 2011 Bulletin

As Professor Eran Yashiv, Chair of the Taub Center’s Economic Policy Program shows in the the new State of the Nation Report 2010, Israel weathered the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis better than most developed economies, with a downturn that was both smaller and shorter than that of the US and most of Western Europe.

May 2011 Bulletin

In Israel, a lesser share of people work than is common in the West. Those who are employed work more hours a week than do workers in most other OECD countries while the country’s average standard of living is lower than in the majority of OECD countries.

Israel has experienced a marked increase in the share of poor families headed by an employed person. The rise in the working poor has been to a large extent concentrated among Arab Israelis. The high rate of working poor among Arab Israelis reflects a challenging combination of disadvantages.

March 2011 Bulletin

High school matriculation completion rates among women were higher than those for men in the past – and have increased markedly in recent years. Children of less-educated parents have shown the highest increases in high school matriculation rates.

Gas finds raise profound policy issues for Israel’s future

Dental care is a major medical service expenditure item for Israeli households, falling disproportionately higher on poorer shoulders – with children and the elderly the primary losers.

Dr. Israel Katz, the founding Director of the Taub Center, passed away after a lengthy illness at the end of October, 2010.

January 2011 Bulletin

The large influx of these unskilled and uneducated workers has coincided with increased difficulties for less educated Israelis in the local labor market. One of the articles in this Bulletin that relates to this issue focuses on non-employment among Arab Israeli men with up to ten years of schooling. The sizeable presence of foreign workers reflects just one symptom of the lack of a serious, comprehensive national program to deal with increasingly severe labor market issues confronting the country. Further work at the Taub Center that will appear in the next State of the Nation Report – and will be highlighted in upcoming Bulletins – delves deeper into matters such as the increasingly prevalent problem of the working poor in Israel. As always, suggestions and comments on our work are welcome.

November 2010 Bulletin

Israel is steadily pulling away from the OECD and toward the U.S. as the private portion of its healthcare spending rises steadily. Will this also lead to a similar direction in healthcare outcomes?

Rising education gaps underlie rising Israeli wage gaps that are among the highest in the West.

Israel’s Highway 6 is appreciably more expensive than comparable U.S. toll roads.

July 2010 Bulletin

The process of economic growth greatly increases the demand for educated and skilled workers. This has a substantial and increasingly negative impact on the incomes and the employment chances of the less educated.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the underlying reason for Israel’s high rates of poverty and inequality and low rates of economic growth over the last several decades is not due to insufficient government budgets but to the underlying national priorities that determined how those budgets were allocated and spent.

Israel’s minimum wage is among the highest in the West, but lawmakers want to raise it further. On the other hand, the country’s negative income tax is very low compared to the United States.

June 2010 Bulletin

One striking characteristic of these trends is their stability during the last 30 years. Another striking characteristic is that – taken together – they will be unsustainable in 30 years. The term “unsustainable” in as volatile and as dangerous a region as the Middle East is not a term to be used lightly, and its ramifications need to be understood and internalized. The topics highlighted here are detailed in the Taub Center’s recent State of the Nation Report, which will soon be coming out in English.

Helen Abeles

“Helen is an executive at JGL Investments, a private investment company with interests in Australia, Israel, Asia and the United States.

Helen is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. She and her husband Michael have four children and many grandchildren.”

Burton Weisbrod

Economist Burton Weisbrodhas written or edited 16 books and authored nearly 200 articles on the economics and public policy analysis of nonprofit organizations, education, health, the causes and consequences of research and technological change in health care, poverty, manpower, public interest law, the military draft, and benefit-cost evaluation. His most recent research examines the comparative economic behavior of for-profit, government, and private nonprofit organizations, and the causes and consequences of the growing commercialism of nonprofits. His most recent book is Mission and Money: Understanding the University (Cambridge University Press, 2008), co-authored with Jeffrey Ballou and Evelyn Asch. This book continues his explorations of the role of nonprofit organizations in institutionally mixed industries, which he examined in The Nonprofit Economy (Harvard University Press, 1988) and in his edited volume, To Profit or Not to Profit: the Commercial Transformation of the Nonprofit Sector (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Weisbrod served as a senior staff economist on the Council of Economic Advisors to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He consults widely for governments, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and private firms in the United States and abroad.

Steve Lieberman

Mr. Steve Lieberman is Chairman of Lieberman Companies, Inc., a family owned fourth generation distributor of coin operated amusement and vending machines. Mr. Lieberman dedicates a great deal of his time and energy to philanthropic pursuits. He has served in several positions at the Minneapolis Federation for Jewish Service including Campaign Chairman, Campaign Vice President, Endowment Chairman and Federation President. He is also a Board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He has also served as the National Honorary vice-Chairman and National Trustee for United Jewish Appeal. Currently, Lieberman is the Chairman of the Harry Kay Foundation and served for 16 years as a Board Member of the Minnesota Orchestra. Mr. Lieberman was a Corporate Contact Executive for the United Way and chaired a Capital Campaign for Washburn Child Guidance Center.

Ellen M. Heller

Judge Ellen M. Heller is a retired Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City where she was appointed the Judge in Charge of the Civil Docket and ultimately the Circuit Administrative Judge overseeing the entire court—the first woman in Maryland to hold that position. She continues to sit in a Felony Drug Diversion program she created in 2003 which diverts non-violent substance abuse offenders to treatment and support services in lieu of incarceration. She is a mediator in the MD Court of Special Appeals Mediation Program and a member of the American Law Institute.

 

Before her appointment to the bench in 1986, Judge Heller had been an Assistant Attorney General in the Md. Office of the Attorney General and Deputy of the Educational Affairs Division, and the Principal Counsel for the Md. State Dept. of Education. She is an honors graduate of both the Johns Hopkins University and the U. of Md. School of Law. For almost a decade she taught as an Adjunct Professor at the Law School.

 

Judge Heller is the former President and Chair of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief organization operating in over 70 countries that has provided rescue, relief and renewal activities for communities in need since 1914. She remains an active member of its board. In addition, she has been the Chair and Trustee of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and currently is a member of the Board of Visitors of the U. of Md. School of Law, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, the Institute of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Studies, the Independent Lay Review Board of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the World Jewish Restitution Organization, and the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. She has served on the Boards of the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Her honors include the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame, the Maryland Law School’s Distinguished Graduate Award, The Daily Record’s Leadership in Law Award, and the Maryland State Bar’s Civility Award. She and her husband, Shale D. Stiller, each received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2011 and Honorary Doctorates from the Johns Hopkins University in 2016.

Caryn Wolf Wechsler

Caryn Wolf Wechsler is the Chair and CEO of Wolf Investors LLC, a family business specializing in real estate and investments.  She has a BA from Vassar College and an MBA from George Washington University.  She is a past Chair of the Taub Center.  Ms. Wechsler is currently Secretary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University.

Michael Saxon

Michael Saxon is the Chair of the Taub Center board. He recently served as chair of the 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, a decennial study of the Baltimore Jewish community. Previously, Michael served in various roles for THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore – as Chairman of Community Planning and Allocations (overseeing the process of centralized planning for THE ASSOCIATED system); Chairman of Legacy and Endowment (the overall endowment program of THE ASSOCIATED grew by 24% during his three year tenure); Chairman of The Center for Funds and Foundations; and the founding chair of the Real Estate Industry Group. Michael was also instrumental in the redevelopment of THE ASSOCIATED’S campus on Park Heights Avenue. Prior to serving at THE ASSOCIATED,

Michael was involved at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore for 15 years and served as the chair of its board from 1999 to 2001, during which time Michael initiated and led a process to develop a new vision of the JCC’s role in the Jewish community. Michael also served on the board of the JCC Association, the national organization representing 275 JCC’s and JCC camps in North America that collectively serve 1,000,000 members. In addition to the Taub Center, Michael currently serves on the board of Baltimore’s Jewish Community Services.

Strategic Planning in Policymaking

The Taub Center hosted a unique symposium with leading academics and policymakers to discuss challenges in strategic planning and long-term thinking in public policy, as well as existing and new approaches to address these challenges.  A presentation of research findings was followed by a perspective provided by current and former Israeli policymakers.

Main findings and quotes from the Taub Center 2014 Conference on “Strategic Planning and Long-Term Thinking in Policymaking”

  • Prof. Dan Ben-David presented findings from his research, including new and particularly concerning data showing that since international testing began, Israel’s ranking in terms of pupil achievement in core studies has steadily deteriorated. Over the past 15 years, Israeli pupils consistently ranked at the bottom of the list of countries (Table 1). In addition, since 1999, Israel has had the highest achievement gaps in the Western world between pupils of different groups, and as Ben-David notes, “it is no surprise that Israel’s large educational gaps later manifest themselves in some of the highest inequality rates in the West.”
  • Prof. Momi Dahan critiqued the way that decisions are reached: “Israelis invest more effort in the process of buying a kettle than we do in designing policy. The future we desire is relatively obvious, but we’re not doing what we need to do in order to make it happen.”
  • Prof. Omer Moav criticized policymakers who, in his opinion, make decisions that are economically irrational.  Such policymakers include Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, MK Shelly Yachimovich, MK Tamar Zandberg and MK Stav Shafir: “Stav Shafir says that in order to ease the housing problem, we must regulate rent prices – but the impact of such a policy would be to reduce rent prices to below the equilibrium level. The fact is that everywhere that rent control has been implemented, it has led to a shortage of housing, poor construction and neglect of properties.”
  • Prof. Steven Popper spoke based on his experience of working with the Israeli government: “The institutions of government created in an earlier era, when Israel was founded, are not necessarily well-suited to challenges the country faces today.”
  • Minister Silvan Shalom: “If we pay less for electricity, water and gas – that will truly fight against the high cost of living.  Effective planning can help lower the price of goods.”
  • MK Avishay Braverman, Chair of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, criticized the government: “Israel is a corrupt society. Each minister works only for himself and each minister wants to be Prime Minister in a flash.  Long-term planning is of no interest to them, and instead, they compete to see who will be the first to have the best gimmick.” He said that “elected officials operate according to what looks appealing in the media, and not for the public good.”
  • MK Orly Levi-Abekasis, Chair of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, argued that the government failed to identify long-term failures in the housing market, even though the data was clearly visible.  She said, “We cannot consider policy for the long-term if we do not first look at today’s reality in comparison to the past.”
  • Mr. Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, said: “In Israel, things happen when there is a crisis. Widening the Ayalon Highway, cleaning up the Yarkon, the municipal sewage system – all are plans that began due to crisis.” He criticized the central government, arguing that the ministers are not selected based on their success in the role, and thus have no incentive to improve outcomes.
  • Yesterday, (Monday) November 10, 2014, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel held its annual conference at Mishkenot Sha’ananim as part of the Herbert M. Singer Conference Series. Addressing a crowd of senior Israeli policymakers and the general public, the speakers presented varying perspectives on the importance of strategic planning and long-term thinking in policymaking, as well as discussing the need to base such planning on facts and not on opinions.

The Israeli Context: Findings and Key Issues
The conference opened with presentations by three of the most senior economists in Israel – Prof. Omer Moav, Prof. Momi Dahan, and Prof. Dan Ben-David. This unique session did not focus on their world views, which differ greatly from one another.  Instead, the three economists presented a unified call to the country’s leadership to establish strategic, long-term plans that will determine the future of Israel, to outline the stages that are necessary to achieve these goals, and to propose how they intend to move Israel in this direction.  In addition, they called for actions to be based on facts, rather than on intuition or widespread public opinion that is often mistaken.

Prof. Dan Ben-David, Taub Center Executive Director, presented findings on long-term social and economic trajectories in the areas of economic growth, inequality, employment, education, and transportation infrastructure.  In the words of Prof. Ben-David, “the government must understand the extent of the continuing trends of the last 40 years and internalize that these are unsustainable. There is an urgent need for serious, professional solutions for these issues.”  Prof. Ben-David presented some of the worrying findings that emerge from his research, for example, that the rates of disposable income inequality in Israel are amongst the highest in the world.  A new finding by Ben-David that is especially concerning is that since international testing began, Israel’s ranking in terms of pupil achievement in core studies has steadily deteriorated.  Over the past 15 years, Israeli pupils consistently ranked at the bottom of the list of countries (Table 1).  In addition, since 1999, Israel has had the highest achievement gaps in the Western world between pupils of different groups, and as Ben-David notes, “it is no surprise that Israel’s large educational gaps later manifest themselves in some of the highest inequality rates in the West.”

Prof. Momi Dahan focused on the work of the government.  In his words, “Israelis invest more effort in the process of buying a kettle than we do in designing policy.  The future we desire is relatively obvious, but we’re not doing what we need to do to make it happen.”  Dahan went through a series of steps for creating policy, ranging from planning for the future to following up on the policy with research and evaluation.  He noted that policymakers today do not receive policy alternatives, which has a critical influence on the functioning of Israel’s democracy.  He gave the example of the “Zero Value Added Tax” (VAT) plan for housing, noting that it was proposed without any groundwork, such that even the costs and benefits are unknown.  In closing, Prof. Dahan said that policy should be made in a manner similar to consumer behavior: policy makers should examine several alternatives via assessing costs and needs.

Prof. Omer Moav also spoke about the importance of understanding the facts when making decisions.  “We all want a country with greater welfare and fewer gaps between groups,” he said, “but in the public discourse, there is confusion between means and ends, and there is no one checking that the means are moving us towards the ends.”  For example, he said, raising the minimum wage is, on the surface, a step that advances welfare.  In practice, however, it could lead to a rise in unemployment and in the cost of living.  Prof. Moav distinguished between those who “create value” and those who “live off the value of others.”  Among the latter, he pointed to farmers who have a monopoly on certain crops and who avoid potential competition by blocking imports. He also singled out worker’s committees as well as public sector tenure, which prevents advancement for the benefit of the public. Prof. Moav also criticized the voices calling for government regulation of rental prices: “Stav Shafir says that in order to ease the housing problem, we must regulate rent prices – but the impact of such a policy would be to reduce rent prices to below the equilibrium level. The fact is that everywhere that rent control has been implemented, it has led to a shortage of housing, poor construction and neglect of properties.”  In his words, “if we were to adopt the approach of protecting jobs, even at the expense of societal welfare, there would be no rise in the standard of living.  The rise in the standard of living is made possible through progress – and blocking progress is what harms welfare.”

Guest Speaker
Keynote speaker Prof. Steven Popper of the RAND Corporation provided an international perspective, including examples from other countries on the importance of long-term planning and the need to rely on facts in strategic decision-making. He opened with the question “How can we make the Israeli government think in a simple and focused way?”

Prof. Popper spoke about goal-setting as a first and critical step in strategy formation, and noted that establishing measurement and evaluation criteria for strategy is important.  He also discussed the importance of a planning process that is not dependent only on internal government knowledge, but which is also aided by external advisors and is flexible and adaptive.

Regarding Israel, Prof. Popper urged local policymakers to adopt an international approach to strategic planning, which can help them make decisions quickly on the basis of long-term goals, analysis and assessment. In his words, “The institutions of government created in an earlier era, when Israel was founded, are not necessarily well-suited to the challenges the country faces today.”  He also noted that adaptation and efficiency do not come from improvising in the short term.

Popper identified several challenges to strategic planning in Israel today, among them: a tendency to be reactive and not proactive; difficulties in coordination across government ministries; insufficient use of research; inadequate outcomes measurement and evaluation of policy; and policy formation for an extremely heterogeneous society. Despite the many challenges, Prof. Popper reminded the audience of recent positive developments due to the government’s efforts of October 2012, among which are the establishment of a strategic planning department in the Prime Minister’s office and attempts to increase demand for strategic planning within government bodies. “In the past, Israel saw itself as a unique phenomenon, but today the government and policymakers are hungry for international comparison and to understand Israel’s performance in the global context,” he concluded.

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Planning in Practice

The participants in the policymakers’ session discussed the topic of strategic planning and long-term thinking in policy formation, relying on the findings that were presented at the conference as well as on their rich understanding of the field.

MK Silvan Shalom, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Minister of Development of the Negev and Galil, and Minister of Regional Cooperation, said: “Sometimes we make decisions that appear to be short-term, but often they are actually long-term decisions, because the projects themselves are for the long term.” He used the example of water, where Israel has a long-term plan and, thanks to desalinization efforts, the country does not suffer from a water shortage today despite the low rain fall of the past few years.  Minister Shalom linked long-term planning to the issue of energy – the building of power plants, desalinization plants, and the like – and the ability of the government to provide services for its citizens.  He said that “if we pay less for electricity, water and gas – that will truly fight against the high cost of living.  Effective planning can help lower the price of goods.”

MK Prof. Avishay Braverman, Chair of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, was critical of the way information is provided to the public: “People say – look, low unemployment, reasonable debt to GDP ratio, growth is good.  But the question is who benefits from this growth?  For years, they have lied to us by highlighting the average wage.  Only now have they remembered to examine the median wage, which shows that the situation is not so bright.”  He declared emphatically that “Israel is a corrupt society,” and he criticized elected officials who operate according to what looks appealing in the media, and not for the public good.  He claimed, for example, that “gas in Israel is a monopoly – the price is much higher than in other countries.”  Relating to long-term planning, Braverman said that “every minister works only for himself, every minister wants to be the Prime Minister in a flash.”  To address this situation, he suggested “less legislation and more norms. Knesset members pass legislation and they become famous, but they fail to consider the long term. We need people who aren’t just thinking about the next office they will run for.”

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis, Chair of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, sniped at her government colleague, Minister Silvan Shalom: “According to Minister Shalom, we can shut down the Taub Center because the situation is wonderful.  In the world that I live in, the reality is much different.”  In her talk, she addressed the importance of comparative data in policy planning, and said that “when I try to deal with a particular subject, such as public housing, and I want data, I request it from the Knesset research department.  But it turns out that there are tremendous gaps between the data from the Knesset research department and data from the Ministry of Finance or the State Comptroller’s office.”  She added that “the people in the Ministry of Finance don’t do their homework – it is absurd and bizarre.”  Regarding the issue of housing, Levi-Abekasis said, “We cannot consider policy for the long term if we do not first look at today’s reality in comparison to the past.  In a 2006 Taub Center study, there was discussion of failures in the mortgage market and recommended options for addressing them, so don’t tell me that we could not have predicted what happened.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat described the vision for the city of Jerusalem that was outlined during his administration.  Barkat explained how he utilized strategic planning to strengthen the city in three core areas in which it has a relative advantage: culture and tourism, life sciences research, and development of remote service centers.  In Barkat’s words, “even before we get to budget discussions, there are plans.  Every division must present plans that have the power to impact, that can be measured and that are attainable.  On a quarterly basis, we convene and examine what succeeded and what didn’t – we then create an interim summary and make adjustments as needed.”

Mayor Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, stated that “in Israel, things happen when there is a crisis. Widening the Ayalon Highway, cleaning up the Yarkon, the municipal sewage system – all are plans that began due to crisis.”  He criticized the central government, arguing that the ministers are not selected based on their success in the role, and thus have no need to try to improve outcomes.  A key point in Huldai’s talk was the importance of decentralization of government. In his words, “all of the authority is in the hands of the State, while all the ability to implement is in the hands of the local authorities.  Therefore, it is very important to transfer authority over to the local government.”

Prof. Nathan Sussman, Director of Research at the Bank of Israel and a professor at Hebrew University, noted the importance of the banks’ credibility in the public eye in order to ensure their long-term stability.  He said that at the Bank of Israel “we follow and monitor the government budget from the perspective of five to six years into the future.” He also spoke of the important trends that are sure to have a significant impact in the coming decade: the aging of the population, sources of capital that will spur the economy over the next decade, changes in the savings patterns of the Israeli public and more. To download Prof. Sussman’s presentation (in Hebrew), click here.

Food Insecurity

Taub Center researcher Eitan Regev and Chairman of the Taub Center’s Health Policy Program, Prof. Dov Chernichovsky, presented at the Knesset committee on Labor, Welfare and Health. The meeting focused on hunger and food insecurity in Israel. Regev presented Taub Center research findings on the price of nutritious foods and the foods that low income families forego, addressing the core of the issue of hunger in Israel. Prof. Chernichovsky offered an academic approach to reducing hunger in Israel.

What’s Happening?

This event, which took place on a Thursday evening at the bar Ismi Salma in Tel Aviv, featured TED Talk-style lectures from some of Israel’s leading journalists, social activists, and intellectuals, including a few of the Taub Center’s researchers. The event also featured the winning entries of our inaugural visual arts contest, for which students from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design (in partnership with the Rothschild Ambassadors organization) transformed Taub Center research findings into creative infographics and animated video clips. The winning infographics can be seen in the background of many of the pictures displayed. Here is a little bit of what the audience heard:

Dan Ben-David: Israel and the Threat from Within
The evening began with a presentation from the Taub Center Executive Director, Dan Ben-David. Prof. Ben-David presented on the long-term trends that have and will continue to affect Israel’s social and economic stability. He concluded that while Israel’s population is relatively young and healthy, the long-run trajectories on issues such as poverty, labor productivity, and education pose a serious threat to Israel’s social and economic well-being.

Yaron London: Will the State of Israel Survive Until the End of the Century?
Yaron London, Israeli journalist and TV host, provided some additional context underlying the issues presented during Dan Ben-David’s lecture. He discussed some of the social and economic reasons why various Jewish communities immigrated to Israel. In parallel, London also addressed why some young Israelis are choosing to leave the country only two generations later.

Sagit Azary-Viesel:  Taub Center Findings on Education and the Labor Market
Sagit Azary-Viesel, Taub Center researcher, spoke about the relationship between education level and employment status. In Israel, adults who hold academic degrees are twice as likely to be employed as those who do not. In the United States, by contrast, there is only a 3% difference in employment between those who do and do not hold academic degrees. Azary-Viesel concluded that if education is such a significant indicator of employment, we must ensure that all children are receiving a good education in Israel.

Nilly Avinun: Gaps in Public Education in Israel
Nilly Avinun, former deputy director of “Hakol Hinuch” an organization that promotes education reform in Israel, built on Sagit Azary-Viesel’s presentation. She discussed the many reasons why it is imperative that every child be given the resources he or she needs to be able to succeed in school. She focused on the gaps in Israel’s public education system, comparing children in the wealthier and poorer areas of the country, and connecting their success as adults back to the opportunities they were given as children.

Eitan Regev: Taub Center Findings on the Israeli Healthcare System
Eitan Regev, Taub Center researcher, discussed the decline of healthcare personnel and infrastructure in Israel. According to research conducted by the Taub Center, there are fewer nursing and medical school graduates per-capita in Israel than in the OECD’s 23 most developed countries. He also showed that Israel has a significantly lower ratio of hospital beds available per 1000 persons than other developed nations in the OECD, including the United States. “In a few years, we will have to be grateful if we find hospital beds in the hallways.”

Adi Altschuler:  So What Do we Do With This?
Adi Altschuler, the founder and president of “Krembo Wings,” a youth movement for children with disabilities, approached the end of the evening with a personal and inspiring touch. She showed the audience that, despite all the concerning information they received throughout the night, each person can still make a difference by taking personal responsibility for the community in which he or she lives. She gave examples from her own life, in which she has started organizations that range from working with children with special needs to sharing the stories of Holocaust survivors with Israeli youth.

Dan Ariely: Our Misconceptions about Inequality and Social Justice
The final speaker, world-renowned behavioral economist Prof. Dan Ariely from Duke University, ended the evening with an entertaining but also troubling lecture. He presented one of his studies, which surveyed thousands of Americans asking them about wealth distribution in the United States: what did they think the distribution looked like in actuality and what the ideal distribution should be? Ariely shocked the audience by demonstrating the large gap between how Americans perceive inequality and the alarming reality of just how unequal the country is. He noted that the disconnect between perception and reality are not so different in Israel, and he left the audience with a bit of hope, suggesting that small and conscious steps can be taken to promote positive social change in society.

“What’s Happening?” was an incredibly successful event, bringing in hundreds of young Israelis to hear from a variety of experts and engage with current socioeconomic issues.  We wish to thank Roni Levit, the Bezalel Academy infographics teacher and Itamar Daube, the Shenkar College animation teacher, for mentoring their students during our visual arts contest, as well as to all of the presenters and WIZE for making this enlightening and informative evening possible!

Back to Basics: Material Hardship in Israel

While this figure helps illuminate the extent of the poverty problem within Israel, what does it actually mean to live in poverty in terms of daily living conditions? In other words, how much material hardship do the poor experience on a regular basis and how does this hardship differ across income and population groups within society? In The State of the Nation Report 2013, Chair of the Taub Center Social Welfare Policy Program and Tel Aviv University Professor Haya Stier, along with Dr. Alisa Lewin, Taub Center Policy Fellow and Haifa University sociologist, have documented new findings on material hardship in Israel using data from the Central Bureau of Statistics’  2007 Social Survey.

While poverty rates are measured by an individual’s income relative to other individuals in a country, material hardship is a subjective measure based on one’s financial difficulties in several basic areas: paying bills and purchasing food, health services and housing. Previous studies have identified that families with a larger number of children, single mothers, the unemployed, and the lower-educated are more likely to suffer from material challenges. Furthermore, material hardship is not just problematic for those experiencing long-term poverty, but even those who find themselves temporarily or suddenly poor might experience material hardship.

Stier and Lewin’s study shows that Israelis across the income distribution are forced to forgo basic necessities for financial reasons. For example, 40 percent of Israelis forgo dental care and 35 percent do not adequately heat or cool their homes due to the cost. These sacrifices are much more evident in the bottom half of the income distribution. The first figure shows the share of the population forgoing basic needs (food, heating or cooling, telephone or electricity
services) and medical needs (medical care, drugs, dental care) by income quartile. A large share of individuals in the bottom quarter of the income  distribution regularly experience material hardship, with almost half of them (44 percent) limiting food expenses, two-thirds (64 percent) bypassing heating or cooling, and one-third (31 percent) limiting telephone or electricity use. Individuals in the second income quartile also forgo various basic needs in surprisingly high numbers, with nearly half limiting heating or cooling in their homes, and one-third limiting food consumption.

Eng Hardship Figure 1

Even with universal healthcare coverage in Israel, out-of-pocket and private spending is still required for various services. Among the lowest income  quartile, one-third bypassed medical treatment due to cost and 38 percent could not afford their medications. About a fifth of individuals in the second income quartile bypassed medical care and medications due to financial reasons. Among medical needs, dental care stands out in particular; because it is expensive and mostly privately financed, it is often neglected. Two-thirds of those in the bottom income quartile, and over half of those in the second income quartile did not seek needed dental care. In this case, even those in the top half of the income distribution are affected by the high cost, with a third of those in the third income quartile and 14 percent of those in the top income quartile going without some dental care.

There are certain groups in Israel that are particularly afflicted with poverty: 50 percent of Arab Israelis and 57 percent of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) live below the poverty line. However, poverty is not experienced the same way among people in these groups. Stier and Lewin investigated the extent of material hardship among individuals in the lowest income quartile, according to the following three groups: Arab Israelis, Haredim and non- Haredi Jews.

The results indicate that the poorest Arab Israelis experience significantly higher levels of material hardship than other low-income populations in Israel, across all areas studied. For example, while 18 percent of Haredim and one-quarter of non-Haredi Jews in the lowest 25 percent  income group had trouble paying for telephone and electricity, almost half of Arab Israelis did. Similarly, the poorest Arab Israelis were more likely (78 percent) to forgo heating or cooling their homes than were the lowest-income Haredim (55 percent) or non-Haredi Jews (56 percent). When it comes to medical care, the same phenomenon is observed. While over half of the poorest Arab Israelis did not purchase needed medications due to cost, only 21 percent of the
poorest Haredim bypassed medications.

Eng Hardship Figure 2
The difference between Arab Israelis and Haredim in terms of material hardship is particularly interesting because these groups share some similar characteristics: they are relatively young, with large families and low levels of employment. Stier and Lewin suggest that certain factors may contribute to the increased hardship experienced by low-income Arab Israelis. One key factor is that a larger share of Arab Israelis than Haredim grew up in a poor household. If the Haredim are the “new poor” compared to Arab Israelis, they may have more existing family resources to rely upon. Poor Haredim are more likely to feel that they have someone to count on in times of need than do poor Arab Israelis (93 percent versus 74 percent, respectively, expressed this
feeling). Haredim are also more likely to feel they can rely on their relatives and friends if they need financial assistance. It is postulated that the strong networks of Haredim and their sense of obligation to support each other and their community may make them better able to withstand the effects of poverty.

This Taub Center study helps illuminate the relationship between income and material hardship in Israel. It demonstrates that economic challenges are not limited to the poor, with even people in the second income quartile suffering substantial amounts of material hardship.

That said, it is nonetheless important to add a cautionary note with regard to the interpretation of these findings. One of the basic tenets in economics is the need for individuals to decide what to purchase and what to do without in view of the budget constraints faced by nearly everyone. Hence, by definition, the existence of a budget constraint for all but the extremely wealthy implies that individuals have to make decisions about what to consume and what to forgo.
Therefore, the question of where simple budget constraint issues end and actual material hardship begins is a very subjective one.

And yet, the forgoing of spending on food, medical and dental care described here is substantial and has important policy implications. It highlights the importance of universal healthcare in the country, without which the frequency and implications of bypassing medical care would be even worse. In addition, the study identifies that poor Arab Israelis suffer from hi