Israelis are living longer, happier lives, despite the country becoming increasingly crowded and its beaches more polluted, according to an annual report released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The 2013 Statistical Abstract covered a wide range of trends in Israel, compiling data on population, economics, education, and the environment.
The study found that 88 percent of Israelis are happy with their lives, compared with only eighty-three percent in 2002.
Most remarkably, in light of the social protests of recent years, 60% of Israelis are also satisfied with their financial situation.
Though life expectancy did not rise in the past year, it has risen significantly in the past decade. It now stands at 79.9 years for males born in 2012, and 83.6 for females.
Israel’s population continued its steady growth, reaching 8,080,600 on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.
That figure includes 6,066,300 Jews, 1,669,800 Arabs, and 344,500 Israelis from other backgrounds. It represents a 1.9% population increase from the previous year, in line with slow but consistent growth over the past decade.
By comparison, the Israeli population grew by an annual average of 3% in the 1990s, when large waves of immigrants from the former Soviet Union immigrated to the country.
The Jewish population grew by 1.7% this past year, while Israel’s Arab minority grew by 2.3%. The growth rate of Arab communities is slowing compared to the 3.1% growth they enjoyed from 1996-2008.
Aliyah continues to dwindle, with only 16,558 new immigrants in 2012. This figure is down 2% from 2011.
But Israelis are having more babies. Jewish women have an average of 3.04 children now, while in 2011 the number stood at 2.98. There was a slight rise among Muslim women, as well, while Christian and Druze women experienced a small drop in the average number of children.
Because of the population growth, Israel is becoming more crowded.
There are currently 353 people per square kilometer, compared to 288 in 2000. Tel Aviv is the most crowded city, with 7,658 people per square kilometer, while Jerusalem checks in with 1,512.
Israelis are still moving out of Jerusalem, and into the central region. The capital lost 7,500 residents in 2012, while 10,500 individuals moved into the country’s center, in and around Tel Aviv.
An additional 4,300 Israelis moved to the West Bank.
Of the Jewish population, 9% define themselves as Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox. Another 10% call themselves religious, 15% say they are traditional-religious, 23% traditional, and 43% of Israeli Jews see themselves as secular.
Similar to their cohorts across Europe and North America, Jewish Israelis are increasingly pushing off marriage.
In 2012, 64% percent of men and 46.1% of women aged 25-29 were single, compared to 54% and 38% in 2000. Still, there were many more marriages than divorces in 2012, with 52,271 couples tying the knot and 12,460 parting ways.
Israel’s environment is experiencing some worrying trends, the study found.
The Dead Sea’s water level continued to drop at a rate of one meter per year, reaching an unprecedented nadir of 426.8 meters below sea level in 2012.
The Sea of Galilee is in better shape, having risen over a meter in 2012. It also became less salty.
Mediterranean beaches are significantly more polluted, the study found. With Herzliya’s Sharon Beach and Tel Aviv’s Sheraton beach reported as the most polluted.
Israel continued to improve its record on traffic fatalities, reaching the lowest number of deaths recorded in the past 49 years: 263.
2012 also saw a 12% drop in accidents that resulted in injuries.