Study Shows Growing Divide in Life Expectancy for Jews, Arabs

Central Bureau of Statistics annual report puts population at 6,990,700; 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 20% are Arab.

The Central Bureau of Statistics annual report on the Israeli population, issued Tuesday, shows a widening gap between the life expectancies of Jews and Arabs in Israel.

The life expectancy of an Arab male in 2005 was 3.1 years shorter than that of a Jewish male, as opposed to a two-year difference in 1999.

The difference between the life expectancies for Jewish and Arab females in Israel has risen from 3.1 years to 3.6 years since 1999. The average life expectancy in Israel in 2005 was 82.4 years for women and 78.3 years for men.

The report also shows that during the 2002-3 school year, Hebrew was taught in 97 percent of Arab schools, but only 9 percent of Jewish schools taught Arabic. Dance classes were available in 30 percent of the Jewish schools, as opposed to 4 percent of the Arab schools.

Theater studies are taught in 30 percent of Jewish schools, and only in 3.5 percent of Arab schools. However, communications classes are available in only 20 percent of Jewish schools, as opposed to 36 percent of Arab schools. In the fields of music and art there were no major differences between the two.

By the end of 2005, Israel had a population of 6,990,700 people. Of that number, 5,313,800 people are Jewish (75 percent), 377,100 are Arab (19.7 percent), and 299,800 people are described as "other," most of them relatives of Jewish immigrants to Israel.

The rate of population growth in 2005 was relatively low, standing at 1.8 percent, and consistent with the previous two years.

This rate of growth was characteristic in Israel in the 80s, a decade that saw little immigration.

The rate of growth among the Jewish population stood at 1.5 percent in 2005, while the rate of growth among the Muslim population was 3 percent. The rate of growth for the Druze population was 1.9 percent and 1.4 percent for the Christian population.

In 2005, a total of 143,913 babies were born in Israel, 70 percent of them to Jewish mothers, and 24 percent to Muslim mothers.

The report also shows that the birth rate among Druze population has dropped dramatically. In 1991, Druze women gave birth to an average of 4.1 children each, and in 2005 the average fell to 2.6 children per woman.

The average number of children for Muslim women dropped from 4.7 to 4, and among Christian women the number fell from 2.7 to 2.2. In the Jewish population, the average remained at 2.7 children per woman.