Poverty in J'lem 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Some 40 percent of children in Israel were at risk for poverty as of 2011,
compared with 20% in the European Union, data released by the Central Bureau of
Statistics on Wednesday reveals.
In Israel and in most countries of the
European Union, children and seniors are at greater risk of poverty than people
between the ages of 18 to 64, the CBS said, as part of its sixth Society in
Moreover, about 31% of Israelis were at risk of poverty –
that is, close to the poverty line – as of 2011, up from 26% in 2001.
EU average is 17%. People in Spain and Greece are at the highest risk for
poverty in the EU.
In 2011, about 41% of single- parent families were at
risk for poverty, compared to 35% in most European countries.
speaks for itself,” Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh, of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the
Hebrew University, told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday. “One thing sticks out
particularly and it’s that the rates in Israel are twice the rates of European
Ben-Arieh, whose expertise includes child welfare, measuring
and monitoring children’s well-being, social policy, children’s rights and the
sociology of childhood, attributed this to “an economic policy that constantly
increases the socioeconomic gaps and cuts down aid provided by the National
“The poverty line is very precise, it’s determined
by a specific amount,” he added, “but for people who are one shekel above that,
they are still at risk for poverty. Most of the population is close to the
poverty line, and only a very few are very far from it.”
emphasized that the phenomenon concretely shapes the everyday lives of the
“What this means is that the parents need to think
twice before sending their child to extracurricular activities and they have to
think twice before buying their child some expensive medicine,” he told the
. “The child ultimately becomes a less enriched, less healthy child: he
can’t get tutoring lessons, medical treatment beyond what is provided by the
basket of health services [provided by the health funds]. He is less involved in
society, and in most cases he also had no computer or Internet and is less able
to connect with the world.”
The solution, Ben-Arieh believes, is to
“expand the system of assistance” by making it universal, unrelated to the
family’s financial situation, to provide help for those in need and “make sure
people are working.
“It’s just a question of society deciding to either
take care of this or not to,” he said. “It needs to decide whether we lower the
salaries of government leaders to benefit more people or not, and whether the
minimum salary should be a dignified one or not.
“Dealing with poverty is
the mission of the government and only the government,” Ben-Arieh said. “Whoever
thinks that NGOs and all sorts of philanthropic ventures should take care of it
doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”