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Israeli society is feeling more socially and economically secure than it has at any time over the last six years, and that confidence is growing, according to the findings of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies's sixth annual Index of Social Confidence, published Monday. The index, used by researchers, policy makers and politicians, placed the country's social confidence for 2007 at 62 out of 100, up from 57 last year.
"These results show that there is no contradiction between economic growth and social improvements," commented Professor Ya'acov Kop, director of the center, which conducted the public opinion survey among 1,000 Israeli adults over the past month. The Social Confidence Index is based on a series of questions pertaining to public feeling on fears of unemployment, ability to cover basic household needs and more.
Kop said that among the questions asked was whether respondents feared that they or a close family member would be rendered unemployed in the next few months. While in 2003, 43 percent said they did, that figure went down to 20% in the most recent survey.
"This is a good indication that the economy can improve and flourish when there is an investment in social welfare services," continued Kop, referring to the government policy of the last three years to maintain a budget for social services. "I don't want to speculate too much, but I believe that if this trend continues, we will be even better off than we were in 2000, when the hi-tech boom was in full swing."
Kop explained that there was much information available on government budgets and social welfare service spending, but that this index was designed to gauge the population's feeling regarding its social standing and economic security. The survey distinguishes between different socioeconomic groups, he said, and ranges from one (meaning complete lack of social confidence) to 100 (representing general security among the population).
"Our index is validated when you consider that the public's social confidence was in decline between 2001-2003 - the Bibi Netanyahu years," Kop pointed out, referring to the Likud chairman's term as finance minister. "And it began a recovery in 2003."
Kop added that by last year, the Taub Index of Social Confidence had started to pass its baseline, or the original figure from 2001.