The Richest Towns: Savyon, Kfar Shmaryahu, Omer

Savyon boasts Israel's richest residents and highest socioeconomic level, so says the Central Bureau of Statistics in a report on the country's municipalities released yesterday. The report uses data from 2006; the previous rankings were released in 2003.

All Israeli municipalities and local authorities are ranked in groups from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the highest standard of living. Savyon, Kfar Shmaryahu and Omer are the only perfect 10s.

The richer towns have higher average income, more cars per person, a higher rate of pupils earning matriculation certificates, and more university students. The three highest-ranked towns are small; together they number only 11,300 people.

At the other end of the spectrum are the towns in the lowest category: Five Bedouin or ultra-Orthodox communities. Lowest-ranked of all is the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Ilit in the West Bank, followed by the Bedouin town Rahat, Modi'in Ilit, Hura and Lakiya.

The rankings have changed little since 2003. Some 81% of municipalities remained in the group they were in last time around.

Jerusalem is in the so-called level 4 cluster, as it was in 2003. The capital has a per capita income of NIS 1,848 per month. In an 8th cluster town, the average per capita income is NIS 4,476 per month - such as in Ramat Gan, Ra'anana and Herzliya. Cluster 8 also includes Tel Aviv and Modi'in. A number of large cities farther from the center of the country such as Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod are in cluster 5.

One of the most important factors in the rankings is of course income. The residents of the top group have eight times the average monthly income compared with the lowest grouping, while the gaps are even bigger for the first and last: NIS 8,522 per person in Savyon compared with NIS 686 in Modi'in Ilit, also known as Kiryat Sefer.

The better-off towns also have smaller families: Only 10% of the families in the rich municipalities have four or more children, compared with 57% in the lowest cluster. For example, 55% of families in Rahat have four or more children, while only 5% of those do in Savyon. Residents of the top-ranked towns have seven times more cars per capita than the poorest communities.

The statistics bureau used its own statistics in the study, as well as those from the National Insurance Institute, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and the Religious Services Ministry. The figures also include information on unemployment and recipients of government allowances.

The rankings are important in part because government ministries use them in their criteria for allocating resources between municipalities and local authorities.

Among regional councils, as opposed to cities and local councils, Efal was the richest, followed by Gederot, Gan Raveh, Drom Hasharon and Hof Hasharon. The Abu Basma Regional Council was ranked at the bottom.