poverty homeless dirty 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel has the highest poverty rate among OECD countries, according to a report
released by the 33-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
The data revealed that Israel’s poverty rate stood at close
to 21 percent of the population in 2011, compared to the 11.1% average among the
rest of the members.
In addition, Israel was ranked fifth with regard to
income gaps after Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States.
Itzik Shmuli, one of the leaders of the summer 2011 protests, addressed the
report saying that it is “the result of a failed policy that not only left
Israel with a budget hole of NIS 42 billion but also placed it at the top of the
“This report only reinforces what we have all been
feeling in our stomach for a while: There are too many poor among us and the
gaps between the haves and the have-nots are increasing,” he said.
the inflated cleaning and makeup budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence fails
to blur this sad and shameful reality,” Shmuli said. “The finance minister
should wake up and realize that his plan is worsening the situation further and
puts another 50,000 children and 20,000 elderly below the poverty
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said the data is an
important “warning signal to a government that only yesterday approved a plan to
add many more people to the economic cycle of poverty.”
secretary-general Angel Gurría said the worrying findings highlight the need to
protect society’s most vulnerable, “especially as governments pursue the
necessary task of bringing public spending under control.”
should not neglect fairness when they craft their policies, especially when they
reform their tax systems, Gurría added.
A growing divide between rich and
poor risks growing even wider if cash-strapped governments keep cutting back the
welfare state, the OECD warned.
Weighing into a debate on inequality in
developed countries, the Paris-based think tank said welfare spending had
mitigated an increase in the wealth gap that emerged with the 2008- 2009
financial crisis, but that was running out.
Excluding social transfers
and taxes, income inequality rose more in the three years up until the end of
2010 than in the previous 12 years, a report by the Paris-based think tank
“As the economic and especially the jobs crisis persists and
fiscal consolidation takes hold, there is a growing risk that the most
vulnerable in society will be hit harder as the cost of the crisis increases,”
With many developed countries facing the pinch of austerity,
economic inequality has become a hot topic, especially after a European Central
Bank study last month found that households in many peripheral eurozone
countries are on average wealthier than those in the bloc’s core as a result of
higher levels of home ownership.
Long a staunch advocate of free-market
reforms shunned by some left-wingers, the OECD has become an increasingly vocal
supporter of the welfare state for its capacity to soften the blow of hard
The study said the pain of the crisis was unevenly
spread. Poorer households lost more income from the recession and benefited less
from recovery efforts. Children and young people suffered more than the elderly,
whose incomes were relatively immune.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.