Report: Israelis live long, work hard, but still behind in certain areas

While productivity in Israel – buoyed by the hi-tech sector – has led to a boom in the country, Israel remains behind in healthcare and income inequality.

 HEAVY TRAFFIC moves slowly on the Ayalon Highway. The traffic jams that afflict greater Tel Aviv have become one of Israel’s most acute problems, says the writer. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
HEAVY TRAFFIC moves slowly on the Ayalon Highway. The traffic jams that afflict greater Tel Aviv have become one of Israel’s most acute problems, says the writer.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Israelis have been working more hours and getting more done in those hours over the past two decades, according to the Taub Center’s State of the State Report 2022 published Thursday.

The report’s findings state that since 2004, the number of working hours within the hi-tech industry has increased by approximately 20%, with productivity increasing by approximately 170%. This represents a 125% increase in productivity per hour compared to the turn of the century, thanks largely to the increased role of technology in the work environment, which has enabled workers to do more in less time.

In addition, a study on the labor market in Israel within the report indicates a particularly noticeable increase in the number of jobs and wages in the hi-tech industry. This, coupled with other findings in the report showing a decrease in unemployment and an increase in the number of vacancies, which is not consistent with the current hot-button theory that the hi-tech industry “bubble” has burst.

“There’s so much talk about the hi-tech [workforce declining], but we’re not seeing it at all in the data. It’s not showing up,” said Prof. Avi Weiss, the report’s editor and the president of the Taub Center. “What you’re seeing is specific cases of ‘This firm has decided to lay off, these firms are having difficulty’ – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many other firms that are adding workers. It’s certainly likely that there’s more movement than in the past because of people losing their jobs; they’re having to move to other places of work. But all told, we’re not seeing a drop in the number of hi-tech workers. And we’re not seeing a drop in hi-tech salaries.”

A CYBER hotline facility, part of Israel’s hi-tech innovative sector (credit: REUTERS)A CYBER hotline facility, part of Israel’s hi-tech innovative sector (credit: REUTERS)

Test scores in Israeli schools

Furthermore, the report found that the state of education in the country might be better than commonly thought. The findings highlight an increase in the number of teachers in several fields including middle school math and science (which have risen since 2010 by 47% and 34%, respectively), and a much greater allocation of resources to the education system over the past decade.

“If you take a look not just at how much is being spent, but at the number of hours learning per student, the number of students per classroom and international and local exam grades, for the most part, there are improvements in the education system,” Weiss said.

“That doesn’t mean we’re where we want to be. We still have lower success in international exams than we see in most other countries, and we still have a larger level of inequality in educational attainments. But we do see improvements in both of those as well,” he added.

Israeli's health still lags behind

The report also touches on the health of Israel’s population, which is primarily good news – namely, Israel has one of the highest life expectancies among all OECD nations.

However, it still lags very far behind the rest of the developed world in its approach to dealing with diabetes, which is on the rise. According to Weiss, if Israel could solve its diabetes problem, its average life expectancy would rise even further.

“Diabetes is a high-ranking contributor to people dying prematurely in Israel. The most direct route to increased life expectancy is to tackle diabetes,” he said, noting that many Israeli residents die each year due to the disease. “But despite all that, because of so many other things going on inside the country, like a good health system, the Mediterranean diet and people getting into shape during their army years, we tend to have a very, very long life expectancy.”

Another prime way to increase life expectancy is to raise the income of lower-income families and residents, noted Weiss.

“Income per capita in Israel is very, very diverse between different populations. The Arab population, for instance, has a much lower income per capita than the Jewish population, and this affects access to medical care, diet and exercise, all of which influence life expectancy,” he said.

“If you take a look at the areas in which people live based on socioeconomic levels, you could try to help increase life expectancy in some of those places by raising incomes there.”