There has been a drop in private consumption in 2021, and harsh governmental regulations may be responsible, according to the annual State of the Nation Report by the Taub Center.
According to the report, consumers were less likely to go out and spend due to high restrictions on areas where contagion is a heavy risk, leading to an 8.5% increase in gross private savings.
The labor market has exceeded the expectations of the OECD: Israel was expected to return to 2019 levels of activity in 2025, but has made much swifter progress.
“We’ve bounced back much faster than was expected,” said Avi Weiss, editor of the report and co-author of several chapters. “That doesn’t mean that we’ve bounced back in respect to all workers. We still have a relatively large number of workers who lost their jobs in the early days [of the pandemic], and are still not back in the labor market. That’s about 65,000 people.”
The report found that there is still unrecovered damage being felt in the leisure, entertainment, and tourism industries, which were particularly impacted by corona, as well as a significant gap in recovery between high- and low-income sectors. Hi-tech and public service industries experienced minimal damage and were quick to recover from the initial blow of the pandemic, while lower-wage fields such as agriculture and food services suffered severe damage, to say nothing of the crippled travel industry. “Those industries have been hurt very significantly,” said Weiss.
He lamented the missed opportunity for the government to present training courses for the lower-income sector that had so much time at home over the year – courses that could improve language skills or technical knowledge.
“There were a lot of people basically stuck at home with the potential to be sitting in front of their computers, where they could have gotten all kinds of training to improve themselves,” said Weiss. “That was the time in which you could have had a big influence.”
Conversely, the number of people registering for higher education has seen a marked increase, with more and more citizens taking the opportunity presented by the pandemic to become students.
This year saw a surge of 14% and 15% in bachelor’s and master’s degree enrollments, respectively. A sudden rise was noted in women’s pursuit of degrees in business (a 22% increase), the social sciences (21%), and the biological sciences (19%).
“You have all these 22-year-olds who just finished their army service, who would ordinarily take some time off, go traveling, and they couldn’t do that,” said Weiss. “They also couldn’t go into the workforce, because everything was closed down. Many of them took the opportunity to go and start their education.”
Another highlight of the report was a host of data related to fertility, life expectancy and morbidity rates, and the relationships between the three.
Prof. Alex Weinreb, author of the chapter that discusses these topics, said that they compared Israel to other countries in order to find ways for Israel to improve the health of its population.
“Diabetes emerges as the single most important cause [of mortality], and the prevalence is growing all through the Western world, but we do particularly badly in it,” said Weinreb. According to the report, 11% of deaths in Israel result from diabetes, with its poor treatment for the disease ranking among the bottom three countries of the 37-country survey from which the data was drawn.
“If we could even raise our performance to the median for these 37 countries, we would have saved about 3,300 lives,” Weinreb said. statistics relating to
On fertility rate and life expectancy, he said that countries that have a higher fertility rate typically experience a higher infant mortality rate, which drags down the country’s life expectancy. “Israel in that respect is very unusual,” he said. “Not only do we have one of the highest life expectancies (nearly 83 years), but we do it in spite of having very high fertility. In that respect, we’re quite unusual.”
The Taub Center 2021 report features eight chapters, each covering a different perspective on the current state of affairs in Israel’s economic, demography, social welfare, healthcare, education, and labor market fields.
The full report is available to read at the Taub Center’s website, www.taubcenter.org.il.