Israel has high life expectancy, birthrate, poverty

OECD’s Better Life Index puts Israel near member states’ average, shows strengths in education, weakness in workforce participation.

May 25, 2011 23:40
3 minute read.
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baby in cot 311. (photo credit: Illustrative photo)


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In a new index released this week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Better Life Initiative, Israel hovers around average compared to other OECD states, excelling in life expectancy, education, birthrate and sense of strong community. However, the findings show that in some areas, much is lacking compared to other OECD countries.

To determine how much room people have to live in, the OECD measures the number of rooms per person in a household. The average home in Israel has 1.1 rooms per person, less than the OECD average of 1.6. Also, 4.4 percent of dwellings in Israel lack private access to indoor toilets, in contrast to the OECD average of 2.5%.

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Regarding income, Israel comes in both above and below average when compared with OECD countries. The average household disposable income in Israel, after taxes, is $19,456, which is lower than the OECD average of $22,284. However, Israel is high above the OECD average for average household wealth, although the organization’s report notes several times that data for this indicator is only available for a small number of countries.

The average household wealth, which also measures real-estate assets and the total value of a household’s financial worth, is $62,684, compared with the OECD average of $36,808.

When it comes to employment, the number of working-age (15-64) Israelis who have a paid job is 59%, below the OECD average of 65%.

However, when measuring only those participating in the workforce, Israel’s unemployment rate is 1.85%, lower than the average.

Education is one of Israel’s stronger points. Compared to an OECD average of 73% high-school graduation rates, Israel excels with 81% of adults in the labor market possessing the equivalent of a high-school degree.


When it comes to reading comprehension, Israel scored lower than the average.

Other indicators measured by the OECD are less economically oriented and attempt to measure quality of life. One such measure attempts to determine the strength of social networks and communities. Asked if they believe they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, 93% of Israelis answered yes, putting Israel close to the OECD average.

When it comes to personal safety, Israel is relatively average, with 3% of people in Israel reported falling victim to assault in the previous 12 months, lower than the average of 4%. The homicide rate was slightly higher than the OECD average.

Among other notable findings is that Israel has the highest fertility rate of all countries in the OECD, with an average of 2.96 children per household, above the average of 1.74.

The country with the second-highest birthrate is Iceland, with 2.22 children per household.

Israel is also very much a country of immigrants, with 26.5% of the population being foreign-born, coming in second behind Luxembourg. The OECD average is 11.75%.

The average life expectancy in Israel is 81.1 years, above the OECD average of 79.3. However, the health findings were not all positive. Israelis ranked the 6th lowest in terms of feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, smiling and experiencing enjoyment. Also, more Israelis reported negative experiences (pain, worry, sadness, stress and depression) than any other country in the OECD.

Also reflecting negatively, Israel has the second-highest income poverty rate in the OECD, coming in only behind Mexico. While the OECD average of income poverty is 11.1%, 20% of Israelis qualify as living in poverty. In addition, 39% of Israelis “find it difficult or very difficult to live on their current income,” a much higher rate than the average of 24%.

Only 36 percent of Israelis believe their communities are tolerant places for ethnic minorities, migrants, gays and lesbians, ranking fourth lowest in the OECD

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