Over the last 30 years, the life expectancy of Jewish Israelis has increased
significantly and is longer on average than in the OECD countries.
Israeli Arabs, who had long lagged behind due to cultural, social, educational
and other reasons, now live noticeably longer on average than
This was reported recently by Jerusalem’s Taub Center for
Social Policy Studies in Israel in a comparative study by Prof.
Chernichovsky, a leading health economist at the Taub Center and at
University of the Negev in Beersheba.
The national health system and
other medical improvements have been notably successful in improving
for all Israeli residents – both in absolute and relative terms compared
other developed countries and in narrowing the gaps within Israel,
However, the disparity in health outcomes among the various
socioeconomic groups, especially between Jewish and Arab Israelis is
considerable, “and this gap is one of the challenges that the system
forward,” Chernichovsky wrote in the Taub Center’s The State of the
Report: Society, Economy and Policy 2009.
Life expectancy at birth is a
very popular overall measure of national health and the public health
used in the UN Human Development Index.
In 1980, the life expectancy for
Israeli Jews, for Americans and residents of the OECD (Organization for
Cooperation and Development) developed countries excluding the US was
identical, at approximately 74 years; life expectancy for Arab Israelis
lower by over two years.
Since then, the gains in Israeli life expectancy
have far outpaced those of other countries, Chernichovsky wrote. Life
in the US grew by four years since 1980, and in the rest of the OECD it
six years. But for Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, the gain was over
In a country-by-country comparison in 2005 of life expectancy
among Israeli Jews and Arabs to life expectancy in OECD countries and in
neighboring countries in the Middle East, Israeli Jews are shown to live
than the residents of all but four countries in the world.
substantial increase in life expectancy among Israeli Arabs, and the
their life expectancies are already longer than those in the neighboring
countries, the US and Denmark, they are still below the OECD average and
other advanced Western countries.
While life expectancy reflects
information about health outcomes over entire lifetimes, infant
focuses on one narrow and acute aspect of health care: the survival of
during the first year of life. In 1960, infant mortality rates for
Americans and residents of the other OECD countries were nearly
rate for Israeli Arabs was much higher, approximately double.
all countries have shown substantial declines in infant mortality, from
per 1,000 live births to fewer than 10. But the decline in Israel,
showed, is greater than that for the US and slightly exceeds that of the
the OECD. Israeli Arabs show the greatest decline of all, reaching
infant mortality rates by the middle of the past decade.