Migration within Israel has an influence on the balance of cities’ populations and on their socioeconomic standing. A new study by the Taub Center examines patterns of migration within Israel from 2017 until 2020 in eight mixed cities in Israel by migrants’ socioeconomic status and their impact on changes in the social fabric of cities. The findings testify to changes in the size and composition of the population, both ethnically and socioeconomically. In Jerusalem and Ramla, the population of Arabs has increased, while in Lod, the Jewish population has increased. External migration in Nof HaGalil increased the Arab population in the city at an annual rate of 4.5%. In the majority of mixed cities, Jews tend to live in areas with higher socioeconomic standing than the Arab population. An exception to this is Nof HaGalil where there is more similarity between the Jewish and Arab populations in terms of socioeconomic standing, and the patterns of migration indicate a possible improvement in the overall socioeconomic status of the city in the future.
A new study by Taub Center researchers Prof. Benjamin Bental and Dr. Labib Shami examined migration patterns in Israel between 2017 and 2020 into and out of cities (external migration) and within cities (internal migration) in eight mixed cities in Israel: Jerusalem, Akko, Ramla, Lod, Haifa, Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Nof HaGalil, and Tel Aviv-Yafo. Cities were broken down by their socioeconomic clusters.
Jews live in areas associated with higher socioeconomic clusters than Arabs
A look at the distribution of the population in mixed cities by their socioeconomic clusters reveals that in Nof HaGalil and Ma’alot-Tarshiha none of the population belongs to the two lowest socioeconomic clusters (1–2) or the top most clusters (8–10). No population in the highest socioeconomic clusters also characterizes Ramla, Lod, and Akko. In Tel Aviv-Yafo and Haifa, in contrast, 68% and 42% of the Jews live in the two highest socioeconomic clusters (clusters 9 and 10), respectively, and only 11% of the Arabs. In Jerusalem, only a small percentage of the population lives in areas ranked in the higher socioeconomic clusters 8 and 9, and they are mostly Jews. The distribution of residents across clusters reflects the socioeconomic ranking of the city. In Jerusalem, which belongs to the low cluster 3 and has recently been downgraded to cluster 2, the vast majority of the Arab residents (93%) lived in areas ranked in the lowest cluster 1 during the study period, and about 71% of the Jewish residents lived in areas belonging to the bottom 5 clusters. In Lod, with an overall ranking that places it in cluster 4, the picture is similar.
“The findings of the study clearly show that the majority of Arab residents in the mixed cities are concentrated in residential areas that belong to the lower clusters than the Jewish residents. In Haifa and in Tel Aviv-Yafo, the gaps are especially prominent: about 73% and 82% of the Arabs live in areas belonging to the two lowest clusters while among the Jewish residents, about 72% and 68% live in areas belonging to the top three clusters,” says Dr. Labib Shami.
External migration patterns: An increase in the share of Arabs in Jerusalem and Haifa, a decline in their portion in Lod
The amount of external migration (into and out of the city) of the Arab population in Jerusalem is particularly low, while the Jews and Arabs in Haifa, Nof HaGalil, and Akko have opposite trends that contribute to a rise in their Arab populations. In Jerusalem, Ramla, and Tel Aviv-Yafo, the balance of external migration in the two population groups is negative, and the external migration decreases the population of these cities every year. The composition of the migration of Jerusalem and Ramla contributes to a rise in the portion of the Arab population. In Lod, net external migration of Jews is positive while that of the Arab population is negative, and the population of Lod has grown at an average annual rate of 0.5% due to migration, with a rise in the portion of the Jewish population in the city.
Internal migration patterns: Nof HaGalil, Akko, Ramla, and Lod are likely to be strengthened in socioeconomic terms
“Internal migration trends within cities reflect changes in the economic situation of their residents. In Nof HaGalil, both Arabs and Jews moved from lower socioeconomic cluster areas to those of a higher cluster — a process that is likely to lead to an improvement in the socioeconomic standing of the city in the future,” says Prof. Benjamin Bental. This trend is seen also in Haifa, Jerusalem, Lod, Akko, and Ramla. In Tel Aviv-Yafo and in Ma’alot-Tarshiha, in contrast, the picture is different. In Tel Aviv-Yafo, the majority of Jews moved from high cluster areas to areas that are of a lower ranking while among the Arabs, the trend was mixed. In Ma’alot-Tarshiha the Arabs moved from areas in cluster 5 to those in cluster 7 (an improvement in housing), while the Jews moved from cluster 5 and 6 to cluster 3.
Tel Aviv-Yafo’s status is strengthening; Jerusalem, Nof HaGalil, Akko, and Ramla may also possibly see an improvement in their status
In Nof HaGalil, Akko, Ramla, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Lod, internal migration of Jews and Arabs from low socioeconomic status residential areas of the city was negative and migration to higher status areas was positive. That is, residents are leaving lower socioeconomic cluster areas and moving to areas of a higher status — a trend that supports the improvement of the socioeconomic status of the city in the future. In Jerusalem, Nof HaGalil, Akko, and Ramla, the trend is being further strengthened by external migration. While these cities lost population from both high and low status areas, they lost population faster from the low status areas. In Lod, the trend is strengthened even further. External migration to areas that belong to high status clusters is about 1.6%, while the share of migration to low status areas is zero.
In Tel Aviv-Yafo local residents moved from high socioeconomic clusters to lower ones – a trend that is likely to reflect processes of older residents being pushed out from areas where housing prices are rising in favor of new residents moving into the neighborhood. Weighing this trend along with the trend of external migration to the city, with migrants to the city settling in higher socioeconomic clusters than the overall city cluster and residents leaving the city coming from the lower cluster residences, points to a strengthening of the city’s socioeconomic standing. Ma’alot-Tarshiha is the only city where the migration trends are likely to lower the city’s socioeconomic ranking.
“The study’s findings on internal migration show us that, as a rule, in the majority of mixed cities, the residents are moving from areas of low socioeconomic status to areas of higher status. From the perspective of external migration, many Arabs have been migrating to Haifa, Akko, and Nof HaGalil, while Jews have been leaving these areas — a process that increases the share of Arabs in the city. In Lod, the process is the reverse, and the Jewish population is growing,” says Dr. Shami. He adds, “It is important to emphasize that there are perspectives that were not examined in this study due to data limitations, like identifying the impetus for migration, characterizations of migrants versus those who remain, and other questions that require further study in the future.”
The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan socioeconomic research institute. The Center provides decision makers and the public with research and findings on some of the most critical issues facing Israel in the areas of education, health, welfare, labor markets and economic policy in order to impact the decision-making process in Israel and to advance the well-being of all Israelis.