Lack of working haredi men will cost Israel over $100b. in next decade

This data was calculated using the normally high fertility rates throughout the haredi population, costing the Israeli government around 8,000 NIS a month per each family.

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July 17, 2019 04:19
2 minute read.
Lack of working haredi men will cost Israel over $100b. in next decade

Orthodox Jews pray near Elimelech's grave, Lezajsk, Poland, 2018. (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

According to the Finance Ministry, if the employment rate of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jewish men remains stagnant, it will cost the Israeli economy more than $100 billion a year over the next several decades - claiming that the sect's employment rates have been in a downward trend over the past two years, according to a CTech report.

Data presented by Assaf Wasserzug, the deputy head of the budget division at the ministry, during a conference held by the Israel Democracy Institute focusing on the controversial haredi draft bill, called for the mandatory enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men in the IDF.

"Israel has mandatory military service for any person aged 18, with exemptions given to women on religious grounds and to haredi men who continue their religious studies. This arrangement requires haredi men to dedicate at least 45 hours a week to yeshiva studies and avoid all other work until the age of 22," according to CTech news. Haredi men who halt their religious studies, enroll in academic studies, or gain significant employment before the age of 24 may be enlisted for military service at once."

Wasserzug and Yulia Eitan, head of the Employment Administration for Special Populations at the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, presented data supporting an option to lower the entrance age for haredi men, in order to "encourage them to enter the workforce."

"According to Wasserzug, the employment rate among haredi men has been in a downward trend in the past two years dropping from 52% to 50.5% today, compared with 87% for non-haredi Jewish men. Lowering the age of exemption by just one year will lead to a 0.2% increase in Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2065, while lowering it from 24 to 21 would increase the GDP by between 0.5% and 0.7%, due to added years of professional education and experience.

"Should this remain the case, the exclusion of haredi men from the workforce would cost the Israeli market NIS 40 billion (approximately $11.25 billion) a year by 2030 and NIS 400 billion (approximately $112.5 billion) by 2065," CTech said.

This data was calculated using the normally high fertility rates throughout the haredi population, costing the Israeli government around 8,000 NIS a month per each family.

Eitan similarly said that integrating the haredi population, which the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics says will account for 33% of the country's population by 2065, would significantly help the Israeli economy if the religious sector would enter the workforce at a younger age.


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