New Report Shows Significant Discrepancy in Life Expectancy Between Israeli Cities

Arabs can expect to live shorter lives than Jews, irrespective of the specific geographic area in which they live, findings show

Ronny Linder
Ronny Linder
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Tel Aviv has a life expectancy that matches Israel’s average – 84.5 years for women, and 80.6 years for men, November 6, 2019.
Tel Aviv has a life expectancy that matches Israel’s average – 84.5 years for women, and 80.6 years for men, November 6, 2019.Credit: Eyal Toueg
Ronny Linder
Ronny Linder

The life expectancy of residents of Israel differs sharply according to the particular city in which they live, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

A resident of the ultra-Orthodox settlement Modi’in Ilit is likely to live until age 87.6, which is 8.6 years more than the average resident of the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, where the average life expectancy is 79 years.

The statistics bureau ranked Israel’s cities – those with at least 100,000 residents – and found significant gaps even between cities located in close proximity to each other. For instance, a resident of Tel Aviv’s western suburb Ramat Gan can expect to live 84.6 years, which is 3.6 years more than residents of Tel Aviv’s southern suburb, Bat Yam, where life expectancy is only 81.

Among Israel’s largest cities, Ramat Gan is the Israeli city with the longest life expectancy – 86.4 for women, and 82.6 for men; followed by Rehovot, at 85.7 years for women and 81.8 years for men; and Rishon Letzion, Petah Tikva and Jerusalem.

The largest cities with the shortest life expectancies are Bat Yam, where women can expect to live 83.3 years, and men can expect to live 78.4 years, followed by Be’er Sheva and Beit Shemesh.

Tel Aviv has a life expectancy that matches Israel’s average – 84.5 years for women, and 80.6 years for men.

Between 2005 and 2017, Israel’s life expectancy increased by 1.8 years. Yet that was not an across-the-boards increase; in some cities, the average life expectancy actually dropped. In Tel Aviv, Givatayim, Ramle, Hadera and Nazareth, the improvement was above average. In Givatayim residents gained 3.2 years on average. In comparison, in Holon, Nahariya and Bat Yam the life expectancy increased by just under a year.

In Ra’anana and Beit Shemesh, however, life expectancy declined by up to seven months.

Not surprisingly, the cities with longer life expectancies tend to be those with a higher socioeconomic standing. However, ultra-Orthodox majority cities are exceptions to this rule: Despite their poor socioeconomic level, life expectancy is relatively high in Modi’in Ilit, Bnei Brak, Beitar Ilit, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. The explanation seems to be the societal cohesion within the ultra-Orthodox community, which compensates for the lack of money.

In contrast, Arabs can expect to live shorter lives than Jews, irrespective of the specific geographic area in which they live. As of 2017, for example, the life expectancy for Arab women was 79.5 years and for men, 77.4 years.

The statistics bureau also found that the cause of mortality rates differed according to region. For instance, Tel Aviv had one of the lowest cancer mortality rates − 370 cancer deaths per 100,000 residents between 2012 and 2016, compared to the national average of 412. Ashkelon had the country’s highest cancer death rate, at 441 per 100,000 residents.

Arabs were also more likely to die of heart disease. The 10 towns with the highest rates of mortality from heart disease were all Arab and Druze communities.

There were also differences in infant mortality; wealthier areas had lower infant mortality rates. The highest rate of infant mortality was found in Kseifa, a Bedouin town in the Negev, with 16 deaths per 10,000 residents compared with 0.9 deaths per 10,000 residents in Kfar Sava.

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