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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The articles present the main findings from the Center’s annual State of the Nation Report – Society, Economy and Policy 2009.
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.
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.