Older Workers Boosting Israel's Workforce Participation Figures, Economic Growth

The percentage of older people working increased significantly over the past 10 years because the retirement age has been gradually increased.

An illustrative photo shows an elderly couple strolling in Tel Aviv.
Oren Ziv

Israel’s workforce participation rate has increased by 4.5% since 2003, and is now 80.7%, above the OECD average, according to figures published by the Bank of Israel. The figures relate to people in the main working years, between the ages of 25 and 64.

The most significant percentage increase in workforce participation is among Israel’s older citizens, particularly Jewish men aged 60-69, non-Jewish men aged 55-59 and women aged 55-64.

Older women accounted for half the increase in workforce participation among women, while older men accounted for nearly the entire increase for men. Older workers – those at or near retirement age – account for about 10% of Israel’s workforce.

The percentage of older people working increased significantly over the past 10 years because the retirement age has been gradually increased since 2004. This raised the average incomes of older citizens, as well as their pensions, and apparently also played a role in Israel’s economic growth over the past decade.

The figures show that while workforce participation declines with age, this decline has moderated as the workforce becomes older. Since more elder citizens are staying on the job, nationwide workforce participation figures have improved as a result. This comes after several decades in which men’s workforce participation declined.

The percentage of women in the workforce has been steadily increasing, in keeping with global trends, yet a large percentage of the increase since 2003 has been due to older women delaying retirement.

The Bank of Israel stated that women’s workforce participation has been higher for every passing birth year, but that the increases have started to taper off.

Since 2004, the retirement age for men has been raised from 64 to 67, and for women from 60 to 62.