21st Century Israel More Educated, Tech Savvy, Survey Says

As of 2008, 22.9% of Israelis earned a college degree, a rise from 14.3% in 1995.


An Israeli Bedouin woman receiving her PhD degree
Dani Machlis

While socio-economic gaps remain significant, Israeli society became technologically savvier, harder working and more educated during the first decade of the 21st century, according to the findings of a national census released on Tuesday.

The wide-ranging study commissioned in 2008 by the Central Bureau of Statistics included a poll of 400,000 households and a telephone poll of 250,000 individuals. Previous census studies by the CBS were released in 1961, 1972, 1983 and 1995.

One of the most notable trends highlighted in the report is the increase in the number of academic degree holders across the country, a finding which could be attributed to the rapid growth in the number of academic colleges. Nonetheless, there remain disparities in the access to higher education among various socio-economic groupings.

As of 2008, 22.9 percent of Israelis earned a college degree, a rise from 14.3 percent in 1995. In Tel Aviv, the number of college educated individuals stood at 37 percent, a leap from 19.7 percent in 1995. In the Be’er Sheva suburb of Omer, 52.1 percent of residents completed a degree, compared to 36.3 percent in 1995. Lod saw an increase from 8 percent to 15.5 percent and Umm al-Fahm saw an increase from 3.4 percent to 6.7 percent.

The report also notes an increase in the percentage of citizens in the workforce. In 2008, 60 percent of Israelis held jobs compared to 55 percent in 1995. Of that number, 12.7 percent were self-employed while 86.2 percent were salaried workers. The average work week for Israelis over the age of 15 stood at 45.2 hours for men and 35.5 hours for women.

Perhaps the least surprising statistic in the study indicates that more Israelis were exposed to technological advances. In 2008, the average Israeli household contained 2.1 cellular telephones. In 71.1 percent of households, Israelis owned personal computers and 90.8 percent of households were wired to the Internet. In 1995, just 27 percent of the population owned a personal computer at home, even though at the time there were a number of wealthy towns in which between 60 and 70 percent of residents owned a computer.

An intriguing statistic deals with homeowners: In 2008, 26.4 percent of families lived in rented homes while 65.8 percent owned their residences. This is the first time that a census has indicated an increase in the number of renters. In 1961, 35.6 percent of the public lived in a rented home, but in 1995 the figure stood at 24.2 percent.

The 2008 census points to a decrease in the percentage of Jewish Israelis who were born abroad. In 1961, 62 percent of Jews in Israel were born outside the country. This number dropped to 52.7 percent in 1972, 42.5 percent in 1983 and 38.4 percent in 1995. As of 2008, just 29.1 percent of the Jewish population in Israel was born abroad.

At the time of the study, the Israeli population numbered 7,409,900, of whom 75.6 percent were Jewish, 16.9 percent were Muslim, two percent were Christian, 1.7 percent were Druze and 3.8 percent were listed as “other.”