Most of Jerusalem's non-Jewish Children Live Below Poverty Line

Over one third of city's families live below poverty line; negative immigration from the capital continues.

Nadav Shragai
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Nadav Shragai

Figures released ahead of Jerusalem Day show that at the end of 2008, over one third of Jerusalem's families live below the poverty line, and negative immigration from the capital continues, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years.

The numbers, released by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, show that at the end of 2008, there were 492,400 Jews (some 65 percent of the city's population) and 268,400 Arabs (about 35 percent) living in the capital.

According to the figures, the Arab population continues to grow at a faster rate than the Jewish population - 3 percent a year as opposed to 1 percent. Some 35 percent of families live below the poverty line: 23 percent of the Jewish families and 67 percent of the Arab families. Among children, 48 percent of Jews and 74 percent of non-Jews are defined as poor.

The city continues to experience negative migration, but at a slower pace: In 2008, 4,900 more people moved out of the city than came to live there, whereas in 2006 and 2007, that figure was 6,300. All told, 18,500 people moved out of the city, while 13,600 came to live in Jerusalem.

A majority of those coming to live in Jerusalem are Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, but many members of these groups are also leaving the city. For example, 650 people from the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak came to live in Jerusalem, but 1,400 moved from the capital to the West Bank community of Betar Ilit in the Judean Hills. Just over one third of those who left Jerusalem went to live in settlements near the capital.

A relatively low 45 percent of Jerusalemites are in the labor force, compared to 56 percent throughout Israel, and 66 percent in Tel Aviv.

A large number of those who are not in the workforce are ultra-Orthodox men and Arab women, which offsets a large number of 15-20 year-olds in the workforce.

Of the capital's 225,000 schoolchildren, approximately 150,000 are Jewish and 75,000 are Arabs. About 40 percent of Jewish children are enrolled in the state secular and orthodox systems, while some 60 percent attend ultra-Orthodox schools.

Over the past five years, the number of students in state secular elementary schools has declined by 11 percent, while their numbers in state Orthodox schools has risen by 5 percent.