This is the second year that the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel is publishing its Picture of the Nation – an original, unique and user-friendly book of figures – that includes one figure per page accompanied by a brief explanation. The booklet provides a bird’s-eye perspective of Israel’s society and economy in several key areas: primary and secondary education, higher education, labor productivity, poverty and income inequality, the elderly, women in the labor market, Haredi employment, and health. The booklet, written by the Center’s executive director, Prof. Dan Ben-David, is based primarily on Taub Center research and highlights areas where Israel excels and those in which a change of direction is needed.
Some of the new findings appearing for the first time in this year’s booklet:
- There are large gaps between the achievements of Hebrew speakers and Arabic speakers in the Meitzav exams. In the eighth grade, gaps in Meitsav test scores between Hebrewspeakers and Arabic speakersreached 13.8% in English, 9.4% in mathematics and 8.7% in science and technology. Gaps amongst fifth graders were lower, though still relatively high – 4.6% in English, 8.5% in mathematics and 6.8% in science and technology. (Page 3)
- International exams also show a large divide between Jewish and Arab Israelis. Achievements in basic educational subjects of Jewish children (excluding Haredi children) were 4.8% higher than the overall average in Israel. The achievements of Arab Israeli children were 16.8% lower than the overall Israel average, and also below the achievements of children in developing countries like Jordan, Tunisia and Malaysia. (Page 4)
- Educational achievement gaps between Israeli children on the international tests are the greatest in the developed world and have been consistently so since 1999. Israelis ranked first among developed countries in terms of gaps between pupils on every international test since 1999. (Page 5)
- Public expenditure per pupil on primary education, relative to GDP per capita, declined since 2002 and remained lower than the OECD average. The gap between the OECD and Israel in terms of public expenditure on secondary schools has increased. While the average public expenditure on primary and secondary education in the OECD is trending upward, in Israel the expenditure in these areas has been in decline for the last decade. (Pages 10-11)
- Public expenditure on higher education in Israel lags further and further behind the OECD. A comparison between public expenditure per student, relative to the standard of living, indicates that the gap between the OECD and Israel is widening. (Page 18)
- The tax burden has fallen in the past years. The ratio of government tax revenues to GDP, or what is commonly referred to as the tax burden, was relatively high compared to the OECD average. In 2007, the tax policy changed and the burden was lightened to slightly below the OECD average. (Page 47)
- The primary sources of government tax revenues are different in Israel than in the OECD. In Israel there is a greater reliance on indirect taxes (like VAT and import tax) than on direct taxes (like income tax). The indirect taxes that Israelis pay comprise 36.7% of the government’s tax revenues, while the average revenue from indirect taxes in the OECD countries stands at only 23.6% of the total tax revenues. In contrast, Israeli income taxes provide 30.1% of the government’s total tax revenues, while the OECD average is 36.6%. (Page 48)
- Half of Israelis do not pay any income tax. Some 49.7% of individuals in Israel did not pay any income tax in 2011; in 2012, the rate was even higher at 52.3%. The top two income deciles are the source of nearly 90% of the government’s total tax revenues while the top decile alone is responsible for 72.9% of these revenues. The highest marginal tax rate in Israel in 2012 was 48%, placing Israel in seventh place out of the 34 OECD countries – and this rose to 50% in 2013. (Page 49)
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, 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.