After 60 Years, Population Hits 7.3 Million

Israel's population totaled 7.282 million on the eve of its 60th anniversary, including 156,400 babies who were born over the last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday.

That is more than nine times the 806,000 people who lived here when the state was established in 1948.

Since last Independence Day, the population has grown by 1.8 percent, including both births and some 18,000 new immigrants.

Just over three quarters of all Israelis - 5.5 million people - are Jews, while 20 percent (1.5 million) are Arabs.

Of the Jews, 69 percent were born here, compared to only 35 percent in 1948.

Though Tel Aviv and the surrounding area still contain 53 percent of Israel's population, that is down sharply from 71 percent in 1948. The north and south, home to only 19 percent of Israelis in 1948, now account for 31 percent of the country's residents.

Over the years, Israel's population has become steadily more educated: The proportion of those with no schooling has fallen from 16 percent in 1948 to 3 percent last year, while the proportion with 13 or more years of schooling has risen from 9 percent to 42 percent.

In 1948, 208 people received degrees from the country's two universities; two years ago, 53,000 people received degrees from 62 local colleges and universities.

Home ownership has also soared: Some 71 percent of Israelis currently own their own homes, compared to 54 percent at the end of the 1950s.

And in another sign of increased prosperity, food currently accounts for only about 16 percent of the average household's expenditures, down from 40 percent in the 1950s.