Israelis’ Quality of Life Improves in Most Areas, Study Finds

Statistics show improvement in 31 indexes and decline in 14

Israelis watch the flyover on a Tel Aviv beach on Israeli Independence Day, May 9, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

Israelis’ quality of life improved in 2018 and not just due to their economic wellbeing: The Central Bureau of Statistics’ Quality of Life Indexes, published annually, showed that last year quality of life for Israelis improved in most of the factors measured.

The indexes cover 11 fields of life: quality of employment; personal security; health; housing and infrastructure; education; skills; personal and societal wellbeing; environment; civil involvement and governance; physical quality of life; free time, culture and community; and technology and science.

Currently, the CBS tracks 74 indexes. In 2018, it saw improvements in 31 measures compared to the previous year, a decline in 14 areas and no significant change in 14 others. Over the long term – the indexes use 2002 as a base year – there has been improvement in 38 measures, and a decline in only three.

The Quality of Life Indexes are intended to grant the public and decision makers a multi-dimensional picture of life in Israel. This perspective is supposed to be broader than that produced by the standard statistics used to measure quality of life, such as GDP and average or median income.

Some of the indexes are based on the public’s subjective perception, while others are based on objective measures.

The annual report, published on Wednesday, includes six new measures, including studies over the course of one’s career. The report found that some 53% of people aged 25-64 participate in formal or informal career studies, including 8.3% who took part in some formal studies, and 34.1% who took part in informal studies, and 10.6% who took part in both.

The CBS also added an index to its housing section about satisfaction with work commute time, based on survey data. It found that 46% of employees aged 20 and up were bothered by how long it took them to get to work (commutes of 15 minutes or more). The level of dissatisfaction increased according to the commuting time; only 22% of people whose commutes take 15-29 minutes were upset by it, versus 64% of those who spend more than 30 minutes getting to work, and 75% of those who spend more than 1.5 hours.

Some 37% of Israelis aged 20 and up need more than 30 minutes to get to work. Some 50% of Rehovot residents need at least half an hour to get to work, versus only 25% in Tel Aviv.

The statistics bureau added two environmental measures – drinking water and biological diversity. The index found that over the past 15 years, the percentage of checks that found excessive amounts of coliform bacteria was less than 1% and was decreasing, to 0.47% as of 2018. It also found a slight decline in terms of biological diversity.

In terms of personal wellbeing, the statistics bureau added a measure of appreciation by family members. Some 84% of Israelis aged 20 and up said they thought their family appreciated them. The figure was 85% for Jewish citizens and 82% for Arab citizens.

Another new measure, of preventive care, found that Israel is a world leader in preventive medicine and preventing unnecessary deaths. The figures relate to deaths before age 75 from preventable causes. Israel has on average 72 preventable deaths per 100,000 citizens, versus the OECD average of 133.

However, when it comes to preventing deaths through treatment, Israel’s average is about the same as that of the OECD. In 2018, Israel saw its lowest number of road casualties since 2001, with 3.5 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Infant mortality also declined to 3 per 1,000 births, down from 5.4 as of 2002.

Confidence in government increased to 46%, according to the statistics’ bureau’s social survey, which may be surprising, but this is 2018 and not 2019, the year when Israel had three consecutive Knesset elections.

Employment satisfaction decreased slightly, to 87.6%, but it’s up from 81.5% as of 2002.

The percentage of people who believe they can advance at their jobs also decreased slightly, to 45.7%.

The murder rate also increased slightly, to 1.4 per 100,000 residents as of 2017 (the last year for which statistics were available).

The percentage of 8th graders who are overweight increased slightly, to 31.1%, but it’s close to the 2002 figure.

Eligibility for matriculation exams for people under aged 26 declined to 45.9%, from 48.8%, as the gap grew between Jews and Arabs.

Israelis’ general life satisfaction index is very high – some 89% of Israelis aged 20 and up are satisfied with their lives, a figure unchanged from the previous year. The index measuring general trust in others decreased slightly, to 40%.