Survey: 1 in 5 Israelis willing to move to Negev

study found a particular willingness among people aged 18 to 34, with 23% "highly likely" to move if they were offered a job.

negev rocks 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
negev rocks 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nearly one out of every five Israelis would move to the Negev, more than tripling the region's population, if job opportunities were available in the area, according to a survey released Monday by the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering in Beersheba. The study found a particular willingness to make the move among young people aged 18 to 34, with 23 percent saying they were "highly likely" to move if they were offered a job there. In addition, more than a quarter of high-earning Israeli families, with over NIS 10,000 per month per household, expressed "high" willingness to make the move if they could find work. The survey also found that new immigrants were the most likely to make the move (20.7%), while native-born Israelis of Western extraction were the least likely (13.1%). The survey's results will be presented Tuesday at the "Leading a Change in the Negev" conference in Beersheba that will examine the progress of the 10-year "Negev 2015" government plan, which aims to correct the social and economic marginalization of the Negev communities. The Negev comprises 60% of Israel's land area but only 7% of its population. The study found that 18% of Jewish Israelis were willing to move to the area, while some 60% were unwilling to make the move. The top three reasons for refusing to make the move were satisfaction with the current place of residence (31%), distance from friends and family (25%) and concerns over "boredom" in the south of the country (19%). While he noted that "the survey demonstrates that the Negev can reach a population of 1.5 million if it can produce quality work opportunities," Sami Shamoon College president Prof. Jehuda Haddad lamented that some 60% of Israelis were opposed to moving to the area due to the Negev's negative image - "boring, lacking social connections and undeveloped." This image, Haddad believes, "must be corrected through improving the Negev's culture and tourism" and emphasizing the area's "distinctiveness." The survey, conducted by the Geocartography Group for Sami Shamoon College, polled 500 representative Israelis in the Jewish population from all areas of the country, and has a statistical margin of error of 4.4%.