As we say goodbye to 2018, 10 things you need to know about Israel
Author: Tamar Friedman Wilson
1. Today, about ¾ of Israelis are Jewish, with some substantial changes taking place in the breakdown between Haredi, religious and secular Jews. 21% of Israelis are Arab, and 5% are defined as “Other.”
2. In recent years there have been major shifts in fertility trends across Israel’s population groups, with fertility dropping drastically within the Arab Israeli population, and increasing among Jews, including among secular Jews.
3. Israel’s population is aging, which is likely to have an impact on the future labor force, the social security system, and the health system. We are already seeing a substantial increase in spending on social security benefits for the elderly.
4. For the past few years, wages and the standard of living have been on the rise in Israel.
5. Poverty levels have started to fall slightly, but in general poverty and inequality levels in Israel remain high – among the highest in the OECD in terms of disposable income.
6. Prices in Israel remain very high relative to other OECD countries and are 40% higher than in the United States.
7. There is a widening gap between the high tech industry and the rest of Israel’s economy, and wages in the high tech sector are much higher than in the rest of the business sector.
8. Compared to other developed countries, a smaller portion of Israel’s health spending comes from the government, and a larger portion is paid by Israelis out of pocket.
9. In recent years, education and employment achievements have improved among Arab Israelis, particularly among Arab Israeli women.
10. Israel’s employment rate has risen in recent years, with a notable increase among women. Importantly, higher education is associated with substantially higher employment rates, especially among young Arab women.
Looking forward, to 2019 and beyond, Israel needs to invest in improving human capital, particularly among weaker populations, and in developing the infrastructure that will lead to sustained long-term economic growth.
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