Report: One-third of Israeli Children Are Poor – 55% Increase in 15 Years

In 2013, 66.4 percent of Arab children were living below the poverty line, compared to 20 percent of Jewish children

Yarden Skop
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Siblings from a Nahariya household that lives below the poverty line, which is 8,500 shekels a month after tax for a family of five.Credit: Adrian Herbstein
Yarden Skop

Almost one-third of Israeli children lived below the poverty line in 2013 – an increase of about 55 percent since 1998 – according to the annual report of the Israel National Council for the Child published Thursday morning. At the end of 2013 there were 2,682,160 children living in Israel – 32.9 percent of the population – with 826,105 of them living in poverty.

This represents a decline compared to the previous year, but the situation assessment in the annual report is still harsh: In the past three decades the percentage of poor children quadrupled (from 8.1 percent in 1980 to 30.8 percent in 2013).

The council’s researchers noted that the slight decrease in the percentage of children below the poverty line in 2013 as compared to 2012 stemmed from changes in the methods of measurement.

Last year about 20 percent of Jewish children and 66.4 percent of non-Jewish children were living below the poverty line – a higher percentage than in 2010, when the figure was 65.8 percent. That year only 4.9 percent of all the poor children were rescued from poverty thanks to child allowances, compared to 10.5 percent in 2000.

In 2013 the percentage of teenagers who worked was the highest since 2000: 8.6 percent. Since 2006 the percentage of students who reported going to school or to bed hungry clearly increased, especially boys in the Arab sector (37.1 percent).

In regard to children’s health, the report indicates that 21.3 percent of first-graders and 30.4 percent of seventh-graders suffer from overweight and obesity. The percentage of overweight children is highest in the Arab sector, where 2.4 percent of first-graders and 3.7 percent of seventh- graders are underweight.

It was also found that from 2008 to 2012 the number of children who were prescribed Ritalin and its substitutes almost doubled. About 50 percent of children prescribed these drugs are aged 10-14, and over a quarter are aged 5-9.

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