Israel pays less in child allowances than any other developed country with the exception of Spain, according to a new survey by the National Insurance Institute, which examined what portion of a country's per capita gross national product was spent on government child support.
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The survey, which is based on 2013 data found that, when adjusted for the size of a country’s population and its economic output as expressed in its gross domestic product, Germany, which spends 6.8% on child allowance support is in first place as the most generous in government child support. The survey drew on data from the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the grouping of the world’s developed countries, including Israel.
Just behind Germany were Belgium, Hungary and France. The bottom of the list was occupied by the governments of Norway, Greece, Israel and Spain, all four of which spend less than 2% of their GDP on child allowances.
Allowances are paid by the government in Israel to families with children regardless of their incomes. When measured by the actual nominal amount paid per child, Israel also ranked low, with only the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain paying less per child.
As of August 1 of last year, child allowances in Israel were cut so that families began receiving 140 shekels per month per child ($40 or about 29 euros at current exchange rates) for each child born after May 31, 2003 regardless of how many children they have. In Belgium, by contrast, families receive 90.28 euros per month per first child and 167.05 euros for the second child. In Slovakia, on the other hand, families receive 23.10 euros per month regardless of the number of children they have.
The author of the National Insurance Institute study, Chantal Wasserstein, said it was last year’s cuts that placed Israel near the bottom of the rankings. A total of 1.08 million families received allowances last year for 2.6 million children. Fully 62% of the Israeli families had either one or two children.
Among other National Insurance Institute statistics, 80% of mothers in single-parent households were employed outside the home in 2011, the last year for which data were available, compared with 61% among married mothers. On the other hand, the incidence of poverty among single mothers was 29% compared to 24.8% in households with two parents. The poverty rate among single mothers was higher despite the fact that single mothers are more likely to work and also on average have fewer children.
On the other hand, many single mothers only work part time and their households frequently do not benefit to the same extent from the support of the children’s fathers.