One in four Israelis is living in poverty, the National Insurance Institute said on Monday in a report which also showed that more than a third of children are living below the poverty line.
Figures in the report, “Poverty Indices and Social Gaps,” showed the number of people living in poverty hit 25 percent of the population in 2009, up from 23.7 percent the year before. Among children, the percentage was 36.3.
The report said that 1.7 million people, among them 850,300 children, were living below the poverty line, which is defined as having a monthly disposable income that is at least 50 percent lower than the national average.
Social Affairs and Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog said that the period in review fell in the shadow of the world economic crisis and reflected largely temporary conditions.
One of the factors affecting the figures was where one of the wage earners in a family had been made redundant or suffered pay cuts due to the global meltdown, Herzog said.
Of the 15,000 Israeli families who fell into poverty in 2009, most were
Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, he said, referring to two social groups who traditionally have large families. The effect was reflected in the large number of children affected.
“In order to join the OECD, the government of Israel made an undertaking to change completely the trend of poverty and unemployment among the two main groups found in poverty,” Herzog told a news conference to launch the report.
“These two groups are our real challenge.”
In September Israel became a fully-fledged member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of 33 rich nations.
Jerusalem, Nov 8, 2010 (AFP)