This chapter seeks to identify the possible reasons for the relatively good health status of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) in Israel. A comparison between Israeli cities shows that those cities characterized by large concentrations of Haredim also enjoy higher life expectancies than their socioeconomic rankings would predict. Moreover, a Central Bureau of Statistics survey found a substantially higher percentage of self-reported “very good” health status among Haredim than among other sectors. The chapter maintains that these data may be related to accepted parameters of social capital, that is, to attributes common among the Haredi sector that have a beneficial impact on individual and societal functioning. Some of these attributes are religious in nature, such as prayer and a faith-informed outlook on life, while others characterize Haredi society, i.e., close relationships with family and friends and a high degree of community involvement (as expressed through volunteering, for example). These hypotheses were examined in the chapter using regressions that test the influence of different factors on self-reported health status. It was found that religious observance has a significantly positive effect on the probability that a subject will report “very good” health status.
This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2015, Dov Chernichovsky and Avi Weiss (editors).