Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Finance Ministry responded on Wednesday to findings from the Taub Center for Social Policy’s annual report, calling the study’s data into question.
The study, released Wednesday morning, had found that 80 percent of Israeli households “could not make ends meet” and had trouble closing out each month.
“This figure contradicts findings of the CBS [Central Bureau of Statistics], which has for years consistently maintained that, according to household expenditure surveys, most households finish the month with a positive balance,” read a letter from the ministry’s chief economist.
The discrepancy, he said, stemmed from the fact that the CBS calculated revenues and expenditures for each household, while the Taub Center’s calculations also included money spent on investments.
The CBS approach, he maintained, was the correct one. If a household earns NIS 10,000 a month and has NIS 9,000 in expenses, then chooses to spend NIS 2,000 on a financial resource, it is a reflection of the house’s financial planning, not a sign it cannot make ends meet, he wrote, arguing that using savings for investment was not a sign of struggle.
Without the investment portion taken into account, the average Israeli household had NIS 2,526 above their expenditures in 2013.
The Taub Center responded that there was no contradiction or “economically correct approach.”
“The Taub Center Study asks a simple question: How much money does the average household have in their bank account at the end of the month? And the answer is that they’re left in overdraft,” a spokeswoman for the center said.
The study had aroused controversy among the country’s politicians, who are in election mode following the Knesset’s decision last week to dissolve itself.
Labor leader Isaac Herzog called the 80 percent figure “alarming,” adding that “the economic policy of the prime minister has made the lives of most of Israel’s citizens a daily race for survival.”
Moshe Kahlon, who established his economic reform party Koolanu this week, said the report’s findings were “not a decree of fate, but part of a system that has to change.”