Israel has high life expectancy, birthrate, also poverty

OECD's Better Life Index puts Israel near member states' average, shows strengths in education, weakness in workforce participation.

poverty homeless dirty 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
poverty homeless dirty 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In a new index released this week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Better Life Initiative, Israel hovers around average compared to other OECD states, excelling in life expectancy, education, birthrate and sense of strong community. The findings, do however, show that in some areas, much is lacking compared to other OECD countries.
Measuring how much room people have to live in, the OECD measures the number of rooms per person in a household. The average home in Israel has 1.1 rooms per person, less than the OECD average of 1.6 Also, 4.4 percent of dwellings in Israel lack private access to indoor toilets, in contrast to the OECD average of 2.5%.
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Regarding income, Israel comes in both above and below average when compared with OECD countries. The average household disposable income in Israel - after taxes - is $19,456, which is lower than the OECD average of $22,284. However, Israel is high above the OECD average for average household wealth, although the organization's report notes several times that data for this indicator is only available for a small number of countries. The average household wealth, which also measures real estate assets and the total value of a household's financial worth, is $62,684 compared to the OECD average of $36,808.
When it comes to employment, the number of working-age (15 to 64) Israelis who have a paid job stands at 59 percent, slightly lower than the OECD average of 65%. However, when measuring only those participating in the workforce, Israel's unemployment rate is 1.85%, lower than the average.
Education, however, is one of Israel's stronger points. Compared to an OECD average of 73% high school graduation rates, Israel excels with 81% of adults in the labor market possessing the equivalent of a high school degree. When it comes to reading comprehension, Israel scored lower than the average.
Other indicators measured by the OECD are less economically oriented and attempt to measure quality of life. One such measure attempts to determine the strength of social networks and communities. Asked if they believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, 93% of Israelis answered yes, putting Israel close to the OECD average.
When it comes to personal safety, Israel is relatively average. Three percent of people in Israel reported falling victim to assault in the previous 12 months, lower than the average of four percent. The homicide rate, however, was slightly higher than the OECD average.
Among other notable findings released by the OECD in its latest report, is that Israel has the highest fertility rate of all countries in the OECD, with an average of 2.96 children per household. The country with the second highest birthrate is Iceland with 2.22 children per household, also above the average of 1.74.
Israel is also very much a country of immigrants, with 26.5% of the population being foreign-born, coming in second behind Luxembourg. The OECD average is 11.75%.
Another notable result for Israel found in the OECD's report is life expectancy. The average life expectancy in Israel is 81.1 years, exceeding the OECD average 79.3 years. However, the health findings were not all positive. Israelis ranked the 6th lowest life experiences in the OECD - feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, smiling, experiencing enjoyment. Also, more Israelis reported negative experiences (pain, worry, sadness, stress and depression) than any other country in the OECD.
Also reflecting negatively, Israel has the second highest income poverty rate in the OECD, coming in only behind Mexico. While the OECD average of income poverty is 11.1%, one in five - 20% - of Israelis qualify as living in poverty. In addition, 39% of Israelis "find it difficult or very difficult to live on their current income," a much higher rate than the average 24%.
Finally, only 36 percent of Israelis believe that their communities are tolerant places for ethnic minorities, migrants and gays and lesbians, ranking fourth lowest in the OECD and far below the average of 61%.