Women better educated but earning less than men, report finds
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Women better educated but earning less than men, report finds

Annual ‘Picture of the Nation’ dispatch finds wages have not increased to match rising food prices, students migrating away from religious schools

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of Israeli students at the Hebrew University on the first day of the academic year, October 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Israeli students at the Hebrew University on the first day of the academic year, October 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

An annual report providing a snapshot of life in Israel found that men still earn more than women although women are better educated, wages have not increased to keep up with rising food prices, and pupils are migrating away from research universities and religious schools.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel published its “A Picture of the Nation 2016” report on Monday, the fourth such report the institute has produced.

Men still earn more than women in all segments of the population, except in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, the report found.

Among ultra-Orthodox there is a significant wage gap in favor of the women, who are far more likely to have a degree, which is also the case among employed Arab women, though in that community the men all work regardless of their education level.

In general, women are better educated with more of them finishing a bachelor’s degree across all segments of society, although among the Arab population there is a particularly low level of academic education with only about 18% of men and 20% of women gaining a degree.

Secular Jews have the highest rates of academic education, with 51% of men and 59% of women having a bachelor’s degree.

The academic education gender gap is especially wide among the ultra-Orthodox, where about 26% of women have a bachelor’s degree, about twice the number for men, who traditionally study in unaccredited yeshivas.

There has been a steady increase in the number of students enrolling in colleges rather than research universities.

Although colleges cost students more, they are easier to gain entry to, making them more attractive.

In 2014, the last year included in the study, the number of students enrolled in colleges was over 90,000 and in universities,around 65,000. That compares to the last decade, when the numbers were essentially flipped.

A high tech company that employs ultra-Orthodox women in Modiin Illit, 2009. (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
A high tech company that employs ultra-Orthodox women in Modiin Illit, 2009. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

More Jewish high school students are opting out of religious education in favor of secular schools. The highest rate of desertion was found from the state orthodox education to secular state education, although there was also a migration from ultra-Orthodox to regular state religious education institutes.

In 2006-2007, around 12,700 students moved from state religious schools to secular schools, whereas in the years 2014-2015 that number rose to 14,7000.

According to the report, wages have increased only in parallel with inflation since 2000, meaning there has not been a realistic increase in monthly earnings. However, housing and rental prices rose sharply since 2007 at a rate faster than the Consumer Price Index and food prices have also been on the rise.

“The shortage of affordable, long-term housing in the rental market allows housing prices to move even further away from the expected level of prices in a balanced market,” the report said.

An illustrative photo of a supermarket in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
An illustrative photo of a supermarket in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

In 2005 food prices in Israel were below average for most food groups among the OECD countries, whereas by 2011 that had reversed for all groups except fruit and vegetables, with food prices rising higher than the OECD average. Specifically, the most consumed food categories were the ones with the smallest amount of imported products from overseas, a factor contributing to an increase in prices.

Employment rates are rising including among ultra-Orthodox Jews. Recent figures show that among 25-51-year-old ultra-Orthodox men, around 52% are employed, a change from the traditional vocation of exclusively Jewish religious studies.

Regarding the workforce, “Women’s participation in Israel has increased particularly quickly,” the report said, and “the largest increase is among women with small children.”

In 1995 just 52% of women with children ages 0-4 were working, yet by 2015 that number had jumped to 75%.

However, as with all developing countries, the advance of technology threatens the future of the workforce. According to Taub estimates, about 1 million Israelis work at jobs that could become computerized in the next 20 years.

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