Ethiopian women in Israel tend to marry later and get divorced more frequently
than the average Jewish Israeli, according to data the Central Bureau of
Statistics released this week.
The median marriage age for Ethiopian
Jewish women is 26.6, 0.8 years higher than for Jewish women as a whole. And 15
marriages out of every 1,000 end in divorce for Ethiopians, compared with 9 in
1,000 for all Jewish marriages.
The vast array of data, released as the
Ethiopian community marks the holiday of Sigd, provides a snapshot of family
life, education and economic status for the 131,400 Ethiopians living in the
country. The bureau’s report reflects data collected over the past two
While the report provides a wide swath of disparate pieces of data
— for example, 85 percent of Ethiopian athletes play soccer, as opposed to any
other sport — the information about the roles of women and educational
achievement were particularly surprising, two experts on immigrant demographics
told The Jerusalem Post.
In particular, Ethiopian women marrying later
represents a “major demographic shift,” according to Steven Kaplan, a professor
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on Ethiopian
The average age of marriage for Ethiopian Israeli women,
26.6 years, is especially significant because of marriage trends in
“That’s a decade or more different from what the pattern was
historically in Ethiopia,” he told the Post. “In traditional Ethiopian society,
there were no young single women.”
This shifting trend is closely related
to changes in educational attainment for Ethiopian women, said Shalva Weil, a
senior researcher at the Hebrew University’s Research Institute for Innovation
in Education who specializes in Ethiopian immigration.
represent 66.8% of Ethiopian undergraduates, while women represent 56.5% of all
undergraduates in the country.
Kaplan said a second reason for a later
marriage age is that “the parents have much less say over when the young people
Taken together, these trends have large demographic
implications, because women who marry older have smaller families, Kaplan
Separately, the bureau’s data reveal that school dropout rates
among Ethiopians are slightly lower than for all Jewish students — 1.6% per year
compared to 1.9% — which Kaplan said is a “major achievement” in closing
Still, Ethiopian students pass secondary school
matriculation exams at a rate almost 20 percentage points below the
At home, Ethiopian households spend 33% less the average
household and spend a larger proportion of their money on food, housing and
furniture than the general population.
Geographically, the bureau
reported that the most Ethiopians — 10,700 people — live in Netanya, while the
city with the largest percentage of Ethiopians is Kiryat Malachi, which had an
Ethiopian man run for mayor for the first time this year.