Israel at 73 by the numbers: 12th-happiest in world, over 10% work in high-tech

Figures show those with average salaries must save up for 11.5 years to afford an apartment; economic recovery from COVID is sped up by vaccination drive

Israelis watch a fireworks show during Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2021, after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israelis watch a fireworks show during Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2021, after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

On Israel’s Independence Day, after a tumultuous year, Israelis are happy, the tech industry is booming, and housing prices are the lowest they’ve been in years (though an apartment still costs a decade in savings).

Here is a look at Israel by the numbers as the country turns 73:

Happiness: Israel is ranked 12th in this year’s UN’s annual World Happiness Report, which is based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy and the opinions of each country’s residents.

Work and economy: In terms of jobs, over 10 percent of Israelis work in the high-tech industry, a number that continues to rise, Channel 12 news reported using statistics representing 2019.

The high-tech industry has been crediting with saving Israel’s economy from the worst of COVID-19.

Illustrative: The DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, Israel’s largest high tech gathering, September 27, 2016. The tech industry is the among the highest paid in Israel, with an average salary of NIS 23,375 ($6,719) per month. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Despite the severe recession caused by the pandemic, Israel still fared better than other developed nations: The economy in the European Union declined by 6.6% last year; by 3.5% in the US; and by 5.5% on average in OECD countries, while Israel’s GDP contracted by just 2.5%.

High-tech is attractive to workers due to the good benefits, high pay and sense of job security.

Additionally, 12.7% of Israelis work in education, 11.3% in health services, and only 1% in agriculture and fishing, according to Channel 12. Agriculture was a major industry and a source of national pride in Israel’s early years.

Population and birthrate: Israel’s population — which rose to 9,327,000 in 2021 — is young. Despite being a Western country, Israel’s birthrate is higher than all other OECD countries. Israel’s average fertility rate is 3.01, and among secular women it is 2.2 — a number that is continuing to rise.

Additionally, 28.1% of the population are aged 0-14, and only 12% are aged 65 and over, the Central Bureau for Statistics reported earlier this week.

Young Israelis celebrating Purim in the Nahlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem, March 17, 2014. (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

Housing: Israel has become increasingly densely populated, with 40% of the nation living in just 16 cities. In light of ever-rising housing prices, the Planning Administration is considering the construction of skyscrapers around the country, said Channel 12.

Due to skyrocketing costs, it is difficult to afford a home — a dream for many Israelis. Someone who makes an average wage must save up approximately 137 monthly salaries to afford an apartment, according to a survey by the Construction and Housing Ministry. This adds up to 11 and a half years.

Tents set up on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. Fed up with high housing prices around he country, hundreds set up tent city, vow to stay until government presents a solution. August 1 2011.
(Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Although high, this number is the lowest it’s been since 2012.

Cars and planes: In terms of traffic, the mileage traveled on Israel’s roads has jumped more than tenfold in the past 50 years. This figure coincides with the number of cars owned by Israelis, which increased at the same rate.

In order to address rising congestion, road area has increased at a much higher rate than road length, according to Channel 12. This means existing roads have been widened to accommodate additional lanes.

Passengers waiting to board flights in Ben Gurion Airport, August 22, 2017. (Stuart Winer/Times of Israel)

In the last six years, the number of flights abroad has almost doubled, according to 2019 statistics, indicating that more Israelis are traveling than ever before as prices drop.

Pandemic: Over the past year, Israel’s robust health services and successful vaccination campaign have helped speed up the country’s recovery from the devastating effects of COVID-19, increasing the hopes that by the 74th Independence Day, the crisis could be in the past.

As of Thursday, 53% of Israelis had received both Pfizer shots, with fewer than a million eligible Israelis yet to be vaccinated. Active cases were down to 3,008, and serious cases to 219.

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