Income for Ethiopian citizens lags behind Israeli average, study finds

Ethiopian Israelis earn thousands of shekels less per month than the average earned by Israelis overall, Taub Center for Social Policy Studies says

November 15, 2017 18:43
3 minute read.
Ethiopian Jewish

Members of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel dance during a ceremony marking the holiday of Sigd. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Families of Ethiopian descent earn thousands of shekels less per month than the average earned by Israeli families overall, a study published on Wednesday by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies said.

There were 144,100 Ethiopian Israelis by the end of 2016, about 85,500 of whom were born in Ethiopia and about 58,600 who are children of parents born in Ethiopia, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The Ethiopian net monthly household income averaged NIS 11,294 in 2013, compared to NIS 15,751 for all Israeli households, the think tank said.

The report showed an overall improvement in matriculation scores, college enrollment and salaries in the Ethiopian community, especially among those who have lived in Israel for a majority of their lives, with most of that progress being made by females.

The number of Ethiopian females who qualified for a matriculation certificate in 2013 was 53%, compared to 65% for the rest of the Jewish female population and 51% for Arab females.

These numbers showed an upward trend since 1999, when the percentages were 38% for Ethiopian females, 55% for the rest of the Jewish female population and 39% for Arab females.

For Ethiopian males, the numbers were much lower in 2013: 33% qualified for the matriculation certificate, compared to 52% for the rest of the Jewish male population and 28% for Arab males.

In 1999, the numbers were 24% for Ethiopian males, 42% for the rest of Jewish males and 24% among Arab males.

“Compared to recent cultural shifts that have been taking place in the Arab Israeli communities that contributed to these higher results from Arab Israeli females, the improvements seen on the Ethiopian side could be attributed to more institutional reasons, including assistance from the Absorption and Education ministries,” researchers Hadas Fuchs and Tamar Friedman Wilson told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Wednesday.

“However, this does raise the question as to why the Ethiopian Israeli males continue to stagnate,” they said.

Only 8% Israeli Ethiopian men ages 30 to 33 hold an academic degree, compared to 29% of the remaining Jewish Israeli male population.

Among Ethiopian women, the figures are much higher, with 22% of females ages 30 to 33 holding an academic degree compared to 43% among the rest of Jewish Israeli women.

“The share of Ethiopian Israelis aged 30 to 33 who have a degree remains quite low,” the report said. “Yet given the low levels of education in their parents’ generation (in which a large portion of the population had less than a high-school education), the progress among Ethiopian Israeli women, at the very least, is quite remarkable.”

The report showed noticeably lower salaries across the board among Ethiopian Israelis in the professional world, with average monthly wages for male and female Ethiopian adults ages 25 to 32 being less than their Israeli counterparts in 2013.

The average monthly wage for Ethiopian men without a higher education was NIS 6,291, while for the overall Jewish male population it was NIS 6,708.

Ethiopian Israeli men with a higher education earned an average of NIS 7,465 per month, while the remaining Jewish male population earned an average of NIS 10,064.

Women earned significantly less, with Ethiopian females without a higher education earning an average monthly salary of NIS 4,347, compared to NIS 5,083 for the remaining Jewish female population in that category.

Ethiopian Israeli women with a higher education earned an average of NIS 6,168 per month, compared to the remaining Jewish female population’s average of NIS 7,648.

“The status of Ethiopian Israelis who grew up and were educated in Israel is better and their education is improving.

Nevertheless, labor market integration is slower than among their peers who are not of Ethiopian origins,” the report said.

“While the gaps between female Ethiopian Israeli students and other Jewish female students still exist, they are, for the most part, much smaller than the gaps between male students,” the report concluded.

“The important thing in this research is that all of these factors are connected – test scores, academic degrees and monthly salary – and how all of this data connects one another and the fact that men are not improving,” the researchers told the Post, adding, “We need to ask what happened to the Ethiopian men and what can be done to reverse these trends.”

The Taub Center is an independent, non-partisan socioeconomic research institute based in Jerusalem.

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