poverty homeless dirty 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Contrary to popular wisdom, poverty is not only restricted to those with no
income. As social conditions deteriorate and the cost of living grows, it is
also affecting an increasing number of employed people, a new report to be
published in the coming days by the Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social
Policy Studies in Israel has revealed.
The report, which shows that the
number of working poor in Israel has risen substantially – from 7.6 percent of
the population in 1995 to nearly 14% today – comes amid nationwide social
protests against the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing
throughout the country.
On Saturday night, thousands of people took to
the streets of Tel Aviv to protest these worsening social conditions.
rally came after a week of protests over housing prices, with young people and
students setting up “tent cities” in most of the country’s major urban
According to the Taub Center’s State of the Nation Report
2010, increasing poverty in Israel is not only restricted to students who cannot
afford exorbitant housing prices in Tel Aviv, but extends to thousands of
families where the head of household is gainfully employed.
study found that in 58% of poor households the head of the family is working,
but the family still remains below the poverty line.
“The people who have
been protesting in the last week about housing prices are not the same people
that are living below the poverty line, but it is still all a direct result of
the policies of a state that does not help its own citizens,” commented
Professor Haya Stier, chairwoman of the Taub Center’s Social Welfare Policy
Program, who authored the report’s section on the working poor.
explained that the government’s policy in recent years has been to “encourage
poor people to work rather than to live off of public welfare.”
primary objective of this policy was to help people escape poverty, but in many
cases it merely shifted families from the unemployed poor to the working poor,
without much change in their standard of living,” she said.
that inducements to get people out to work “may have involved too much “stick”
(reduction of benefits) and too little “carrot” (improving the compensation from
work); and as a result, such programs may have saved money for the Treasury
without making a major impact on poverty levels.
Information provided by
the Taub Center shows that the poverty rate in Israel – in terms of net incomes
(after taxes and welfare payments) – is one of the highest in the developed
world. And its rates of working poor – 13.4% of all working families – are
almost twice as much as the average among other countries belonging to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
primarily on government data, the Taub report shows that poverty rates overall
have risen considerably in the past decade, with 18.5% of households in Israel
considered poor in 2009, compared to 13.4% in 1995. Poverty in Israel is defined
by having a household income of less than half the national median household
income, adjusted for family size.
“It is easy to see that families
without any earners are very vulnerable to poverty, but families with wage
earners can also find themselves below the poverty line, if earnings are low, or
if there are many household members,” pointed out Stier, who also noted that the
rise in working poor is concentrated among Arab- Israelis.
rate of working poor among Jewish- Israelis remained relatively low and has
risen only slightly in terms of percentage points since 1995, general poverty
rates and the share of working poor among Arab-Israelis have doubled, and are
now around 50% and 40% respectively, compared to 28% and 21% in 1995,” she
Headed by Professor Dan Ben-David, the The Taub Center for Social
Policy Studies in Israel is an independent, non-partisan institution for
socioeconomic research based in Jerusalem. The Center provides decision-makers,
as well as the public in general, with a big-picture perspective on economic and