More Than Half of Israelis Are Poor, or at Risk of Becoming Poor

Figure one of highest in OECD, more than Greece, Ireland and Spain, report shows.

More than half of all Israelis are poor or are at immediate risk of becoming poor, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report.

The figures state that 31% of Israelis were at risk of falling into poverty as of 2011, while another 21% were poor, according to the report published Wednesday in honor of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The percentage of Israelis at risk of becoming poor is one of the highest figures in the OECD – higher than figures for European nations in the throes of financial crises such as Greece (21%), Spain (22%) and Ireland (16%). The EU average was 17%. In Israel, this figure has increased significantly since 2001, when it was 26%. Sharper increases were registered only in Germany and Sweden, although the poverty rates there were much lower to begin with.

These figures are not surprising. Many reports have shown that Israel has one of the highest poverty rates in the OECD. People are considered poor if their household income is less than 60% the median income in a given nation. This works out to income of less than NIS 2,300 per person. As of 2011, people were considered at risk of poverty if their household income worked out to less than NIS 3,450 per person.

People in this category may find themselves in poverty relatively quickly due to a small change in their income. These could include the side effects of the recent government cutbacks, which call for slicing child allowances and raising VAT.

Furthermore, some 40% of children were at immediate risk of falling into poverty as of 2011, compared to the OECD average of 20%.

A food distribution center for poor Haredi families in Ramat Beit Shemesh.Credit: Eyal Toueg

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