In Jerusalem, over half of children impoverished, annual study says. The situation is described ‘grave’ by OECD standards.
Some 1.8 million Israelis, including 842,300 children, were living in poverty in 2016, according to new figures released by the National Insurance Institute this month.
The poorest region in the country continued to be Jerusalem, where some 55 percent of children live under the poverty line (down from 58% in 2015), followed by northern and southern Israel.
A family in which both spouses are employed should have sufficient income to ensure it lives with dignity. However, in reality, even two full-time jobs are often not enough, and from year to year the situation deteriorates. While twenty years ago, only 2% of families with two breadwinners lived below the poverty line, by 2016 the rate had almost tripled, to 5.3%. That same year there were 463,300 families in Israel under the poverty line, accounting for 1.8 million people, of whom 850,000 are children.
The situation of two people, both employed, struggling for their basic existence is not only economically and socially unviable, but also morally destructive. It produces unhealthy norms, including a transition to reliance on welfare. If it is impossible for them to earn a living from hard work, employees are left with a sense of despair and hopelessness, pondering why they should work at all.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “In the rankings of OECD countries, Israel continues to place at the top of the poverty scale,” it said. “At the same time, in terms of inequality, its position is better.”
Being poor in the State of Israel in 2016, for an individual, meant taking home a net monthly paycheck of NIS 3,260 ($920) or less; for a couple, earning less than NIS 5,216 ($1,480); and for a family of five, less than NIS 10,000 ($2,800).