The Central Bureau of Statistics published some disturbing as well as encouraging statistics on Sunday to mark the International Poverty Awareness Day. According to the CBS figures as of the end of 2008, 29 percent of Israeli residents are "at risk" of experiencing poverty and 38% of Israeli children are similarly at risk of growing up under impoverished conditions. These Israeli figures compare to an EU average at risk rate for poverty of 16% for the general population and 19% for EU children. The highest at risk figures for the general populace in the EU are in Greece and Spain, where the figure rests at 20%.
Regarding income inequality, Israel manages to greatly exceed the EU average. In Israel, the top quintile of income earners make 7.5 times the income of the in the bottom quintile of the income distribution. Among EU nations, the gap is only a factor of 4.9. Israel income gap has increased rapidly in recent years jumping from a factor of 6.5 in the year 2000 to 7.5 in 2008. The EU income gap factor by way of comparison grew from 4.5 to 4.9 in the same period.
On encouraging, the CBS reported that Israelis are on average significantly happier and more optimistic with their lives than EU citizens. According to the report, 86% of Israelis above the age of 20 reported they were happy with their lives in 2008 a gain of three percentage points from 2006. Reported happiness among EU citizens over the age of 15 declined in the same period from from 87 percent to 77 percent of respondents. In 2008, 57 percent of Israelis believed that their lives would improve in the near future compared with an EU average of 32 percent or respondents, with the Swedes being the most optimistic at 50 percent of Swedish respondents being similarly optimistic over their future prospects.