Increasing government child allowances helps to boost birthrates among Arab-Israeli and ultra-Orthodox populations in Israel, but has little impact on the non-haredi sector, a joint study released this week by the Bank of Israel (BOI) and the National Insurance Institute (NII) has found.
According to the research, which focuses on the years 1994-2007, payment of child allowances increased birthrates among the Arab-Israeli population by 7 percent and among the ultra-Orthodox by 3%.
Overall, during the period researched, child allowances increased birthrates in Israel by 2%.
However, the research also found a dip in the birthrate during 2003-2007, which is explained in part by government cuts in child allowances.
The drop was especially significant among the Arab and haredi sectors, the study noted.
"While we only saw a small fall in the birthrate, what this shows is that if the government were to completely cut child allowances then the birthrate would decrease significantly," said Daniel Gottlieb, Assistant Director of Research and Planning Department at the NII, who authored the study together with the NII's Esther Toledano and the BOI's Noam Zussman and Ronnie Frish.
Gottleib suggested that canceling such allowances could cause haredi families of five children to have one less child and Beduin families of five children to have two less.
Cutting child allowances, however, would have almost no effect on non-haredi families, he noted.
According to information released by the NII, the last decade has seen significant changes to the amount of child allowances granted by the State.
In 2001, benefits for the fifth child or more increased substantially but by 2002-2003 they had been cut again. Since 2000, child benefits have been slashed by some 60% and, under the current government's coalition arrangement, have been slightly increased again.