1. What are some of the central features of this year’s Singer Series: State of the Nation Report?
The 2017 report provides an in-depth picture of the current state of affairs in Israel, including changes that have occurred during the past year or years, central issues facing decision makers and, when appropriate, a survey of policy options. This year we’ve chosen to concentrate a significant portion of our research on the largest minority sector in Israel – the Arab Israeli population. The reason for this choice at this time is the beginning of the implementation of Government Resolution 922, which has allocated NIS 15 billion to assist and promote Arab Israelis. We believe that in order to ensure that this investment is allocated most beneficially, it’s important to highlight the areas in which we see improvements in this sector and pinpoint those areas in which additional assistance is required.
2. So what findings does the report include that specifically relate to the Arab Israeli population?
Two chapters in the book are dedicated to the Arab Israeli population. The first is dedicated to the academic education of young Arab Israelis. The chapter finds that there has been substantial improvement in high school and higher education enrollment, especially among women. However, large gaps among population groups (i.e. Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Bedouin) within the sector remain. It seems that the gaps in educational achievement between the Jewish and Arab Israeli populations can be largely explained by the weaker average socioeconomic background of the Arab population. The second chapter, on the health of the Arab Israeli population, finds that the life expectancy of the Arab population in Israel is the highest in the Arab-Muslim world, but it is low compared to the Jewish population and the OECD average. It also finds gaps in access to health services and resources between Jewish and Arab Israelis.
3. What are some of the report’s most important findings relating to overall economic growth and the Israeli labor market?
The past year witnessed an increase in employment and real wages, and a decline in the unemployment rate, which is at a historic low. However, per capita growth in Israel is low relative to other countries, and labor productivity is not growing at all. Within the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) population, employment is on the rise, but there are differences by gender, Haredi stream (i.e. Litvak, Sephardic, Chabad, or Hasidic) and residential district in employment rates, typical employment industries and average wages. In another study we found that philanthropists who immigrated to Israel donate more money than Israel-born philanthropists and are also more generous, as are female-headed households (although the average donation by male-headed households are larger).
4. What issues does the report raise in the areas of welfare, education, and health?
The report examines Israel’s level of welfare spending, particularly what has been spent thus far to implement the recommendations of the Elalouf Committee for the War Against Poverty, and disparities that exist in municipal social welfare budgeting as a result of the national matching system for allocating funds. It also looks at inequality in the education system and the link between the likelihood of students experiencing ostracism and personal characteristics such as sector, social status, gender, and grade level. With regard to health, the report explores issues relating to public and private financing, prices for medical care, and the implications of an aging Israeli population on the health system.
5. What can we learn, not only from examining the trends of Israel’s minority groups relative to the population at large, but from examining differences in trends within these groups?
The report looks at trends within both the Haredi and Arab Israeli population groups, exposing differences by gender, geographic location, and streams or subgroups. This breakdown of data helps us identify areas of weakness and opportunities for growth – both for implementing existing plans and for future policy. The more detailed the information available to Israel’s leaders and the public, the greater their capacity to tailor solutions to the country’s most pressing socioeconomic issues.