Arab Israelis have less income, die younger than Jewish peers, data shows

Central Bureau of Statistics assessment shows barely half of Arab households can cover monthly expenses, employment rates lower than for Jewish counterparts

Arab women sit on a bench in central Jerusalem, on January 04, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Arab women sit on a bench in central Jerusalem, on January 04, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

New data released Monday on the differences between the Jewish and Arab communities pointed to significant gaps between the two populations, with Arab Israelis earning less income, being more likely to slip into poverty, and dying younger.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) report, titled “Gaps Between Jews and Arabs,” examined differences in demographic characteristics, standards of living, employment, health, welfare services, personal security, crime, education, transportation and the environment.

The data is from 2020 and 2021.

The report found that in 2021, 76.5 percent of Jewish households could cover their expenses, compared to 53.7% of Arab households.

The same year, the employment rate among Jewish men was 64.4% and among Jewish women 61.6%, while in the Arab community it was 50.4% and 28.3% for men and women, respectively.

The average monthly gross income of a Jewish household in 2021 was 1.6 times that of an Arab home, the CBS said.

The average net income for Jewish homes was NIS 17,779 ($4,919), compared to NIS 11,810 ($3,268) for Arab households.

“The average net financial income per standard person, accepted as a measure of standard of living, in Jewish households was 1.9 times higher than in Arab households,” the report noted.

The average expenses for a Jewish home totaled NIS 15,467 ($4,279) per month, some NIS 1,200 more than the average for Arab homes at NIS 14,282 ($3,951).

Jews and Arabs shop at the open air market in the central city of Lod on November 1, 2022 (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)

There are 6.873 million Jews and 1.957 million Arabs in the country, constituting 74% and 21% of the population, respectively.

The Jewish population is growing at a rate of 1.7% per year and the Arab population at a rate of 2.1%. The CBS predicted that by 2048, the population will be 15 million, of which 12 million will be Jews and 3.15 million will be Arabs.

Infant deaths are over 2.5 times higher in the Arab community, with 5.2 fatalities per 1,000 births compared to 2 in the Jewish community.

At the other end of life, Jewish women on average live longer (85.1 years) than their Arab counterparts (81.2 years). Likewise, Jewish men live 81.3 years, more than the 76.3 years on average for Arab men.

Among Jews, 91.5% said that are satisfied with their lives compared to 79.7% among Arabs. Asked if they are satisfied with their economic situation, 70.4% of Jews said they were while 51.1% of Arabs responded affirmatively.

In a reversal of commonly seen trends, 61.9% of Jews said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the balance between work and other aspects of their lives, while a bigger portion of Arabs, 70.9%, felt the same.

Other data showed that among Jews, 36.6% have an academic degree, while 16.2% of Arabs do. Also, 38.3% of Arabs said they have felt discrimination compared to 23.5% of Jews.

“In the last decade, the poverty risk rates in Israel were higher than the poverty risk rates in European Union countries, both at the general level and among population groups at risk of poverty: children aged 0-17, 65 and over, and women. Among Arabs, the risk of poverty was 2.9 times higher than the risk among Jews,” the report said.

Out of every 1,000 Jews, 98.9 are registered with social services, while among Arabs the figure is 156.6 per 1,000.

There was much greater fear among Arabs of being harmed where they live, with 19.5% of Arabs expressing great or very great fear of harm compared to 7.5% among Jews.

As for walking alone at night, 83.3% of Jews said they feel safe compared to 78.7% of Arabs.

Students seen at the Mount Scopus campus at Hebrew University on October 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASh900

Another sharp divergence was in satisfaction with the size of green areas around respondents’ homes, with 70.8% of Jews saying they were satisfied compared to 23.4% of Arabs.

Sharaf Hassan, chairman of the Follow Up Commission on Arab Education, told the Ynet news site: “This is grave data that shows the real suffering and life difficulties of the majority of the Arab population.”

“It also shows that Israeli governments have not made a significant effort to change the reality,” he said. He criticized governmental five-year plans aimed at improving the situation for their “weakness in offering in-depth solutions that can change the gloomy picture that emerges from the data.”

“These are negligible programs that are unable to deal with the needs of Arab society in a substantial way and close the gaps,” Hassan said. “We need to change the policy from the ground up and build holistic programs based on a correct policy concept centered on recognizing the rights of the Arab population and responding to the needs of Arab society in order to close the gaps.”

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