Israel at 75 – selected data from the establishment of the State until today

In honor of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, the Taub Center is publishing a series of graphs that depict some interesting stories about changes that have occurred from the founding of the State until today . Do you think that nothing has changed? Or that things used to be better than they are today? The graphs show that we are traveling abroad more, own more cars, and spend less on taxes. On the other hand, we also have fewer hospital beds, more families living in poverty, and the weather is warmer. Some improvements and some regressions in the only country we have!

Click for the graphs

  • Did you pack your own bags? Since 1948 there has been a significant increase in the number of Israelis traveling abroad and in the number of tourists coming to Israel, particularly in the decade preceding the COVID crisis. COVID decreased the number of tourists, of course, but the gap closed quickly.
  • Coalition formation 101: Until 2000, there were two large political parties with many mandates, that were sufficient, for the most part, to form a government. Since 2000, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of mandates that the two largest parties controlled and they increasingly needed to depend on smaller political parties to form a government. During the recent elections the total number of mandates of the small parties have been similar to that in the first decades of the State, with the exception of the 24th
  • Women in power: Although the number of women in the Knesset is far smaller than that of men, their number has tripled since the State was established – 12 to today’s 33. In the 24th Knesset, the number of women rose to an all-time high of 45.
  • May we never need them: The number of hospital beds per person has declined significantly since the 1970s, and continues to decline. In 2020, the number of beds per 1,000 population was less than 2, compared to 3.4 in 1950.
  • Is there a doctor in the house? The number of physicians, in contrast, has risen since 1970 – from about 1.7 per 1,000 population to nearly 3.5 by 2020. Nevertheless, since a good number of them are set to retire in the coming years, the trend is likely to reverse.
  • Until 120: Life expectancy at birth in Israel is among the highest in the world – an average of 82 years. In the past few years, though, there has been a slowing in the growth rate. There are disparities in life expectancy between Jews and Arab and between men and women. The gap in life expectancy between men and women in both sectors is among the lowest in more affluent countries.
  • Start saving: The rise in life expectancy and the years one can expect to live post-retirement increases the importance of pension savings over one’s lifetime. Women live on average more than 20 years after retirement age, while men live around 14 additional years. This has great significance for pension savings and the differences in pension incomes between men and women.
  • Be fruitful and multiply: The rate of infant mortality in Israel is low, even in comparison to the OECD average. It has declined since the establishment of the State: from about 29 per 1,000 live births in 1970 to less than 3 per 1,000 births in 2020.
  • More households living in poverty: Over the years, there has been a rise in the share of households living under the poverty line, which is currently over 20%. With this, there has been a decline in this rate in recent years.
  • The shekel: During the 1980s and 1990s the shekel weakened relative to other currencies, but from that time until today, it has strengthened. It is still too early to determine how current fluctuations will play out.
  • Revenue from taxes has declined: The percent of revenues from income tax in Israel has decreased over the past forty years from about 15% to about 10% of GDP.
  • Inflation: Since inflation peaked in the 1980s, it continually fell until mid-2021. Since then it has begun to rise again, partially in the wake of the COVID crisis – an increase that was typical of many countries and not just Israel.
  • Increasing interest rates: The interest rate set by the Bank of Israel, which affects the prime interest rate and impacts mortgages, neared zero in the past few years. However, due to price rises, the past year has seen it increasing notable.
  • Landlords: Home ownership has declined – from about 70% in 1997 to about 65% in 2020 – since housing prices started to increase over the past decade and a half.
  • Olim to Israel: The greatest number of olim (new immigrants) to Israel continues to be from European countries, primarily from the countries of the former Soviet Union, just as they were in the large wave of immigration of the 1990s. The large immigration of the past year resulted from the war between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Decreasing share of Jews: The share of Jews in Israel continues to decline and is currently about 70% of the total population. Less than 20% of the population are Muslims, small percentages are Druze and Christian, and the fastest growing population group is that classified as “other” – those who are neither Jews nor Arabs.
  • The portion of Haredi pupils is growing: There has been a decline in the share of Arab students in school and a rapid increase in Haredi students. From 1960 to 2020, the share of students in Hebrew State education declined from 67% to 43%; in Hebrew State-religious education there was a decrease from 24% to only 14%; while Haredi education tripled in size from 6% to 19%. The share of Arab students more than doubled, from 10% to 24%, but the rate of growth slowed significantly in the past few decades – which matches the decline in the fertility rates in Arab society.
  • Slow down: The number of motorized vehicles in Israel per household has risen by 75% in the past three decades, from an average of less than 1 car per household in 1990 to 1.4 in 2020.
  • It is hot here: Global warming is being felt in Israel, with a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 30 years. From 1948 to 1979, the average temperature was 19.1 degrees, in contrast to almost 21 degrees in 2021. In addition, the number of very hot days has risen rapidly. In the first decades of the country there were only a handful of particularly hot days, while in 2020, there were 24 such days.
  • For your security: Expenditure on security has declined since the Yom Kippur War (1973), although it remains the highest among the developed countries, and among the highest in the world.
  • We grew: Until the Yom Kippur War, the GDP per capita growth rate in Israel was much higher than that in the United States and in other developed countries. Since then, the rate of growth has equalized that of the United States, and the relative gap between the countries has remained the same.

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