Did Israelis give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu such a thumping victory because of pocketbook issues? Unlikely, since the economy never earned a major place on any party’s campaign agenda, certainly not the prime minister’s Likud Party.
Nevertheless, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a survey released a day after the vote that Israeli consumer sentiment is much more positive than it was the last time they voted in 2015.
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Among others measures, the agency’s Consumer Confidence Survey for March showed a sharp rise in the number of people who were confident they would be able to put away some of their earnings for savings. More than 40% of the respondents said they were sure or very sure they would be able to save money, up from 30-35% four years earlier.
More than half of respondents said they didn’t think they would have the money available to do so, but the number who answered in the negative has been on a long downward trend, the CBS figures show.
Asked about their overall household financial situation over the next 12 months, about half said they foresaw no change. However, the share who said they were optimistic about an improvement grew to 22-26% in recent months from less than 20% in 2015.
The backdrop of the growing Israeli optimism is rising incomes over the past decade. According to a report published Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentsince 2008, the median income of Israeli households has risen 3% annually on average – 10 times the average for OECD countries.
On the other hand, the news isn’t all good. Israel’s middle class, which the OECD defines as those earning between 75% and 200% of a country’s median income, remains relatively small at 54% of the population, compared to an average of 61.5% across all OECD countries.
Moreover, younger Israelis are less likely to be in the middle class than older ones: Only 55% of those born between 1965 and 2002 are deemed middle class compared with 62% of those born between 1942 and 1964, the OECD reported.
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