A new report prepared by Israel’s National Council for the Child reveals that the average poverty rate for Arab children in Israel reached 67.9 per cent in 2012, compared to 65.8 per cent in 2011. Furthermore, the report finds that the percentage of Arab children living in poverty is now three times higher than it is for Jewish children.
The results also show that poverty in Israel has become more socially entrenched. In 2000, 10.5 per cent of poor children were able to escape their poverty, whereas in 2012 only 5.3 per cent were able to do so. Several policy decisions likely account for this decline, including government cutbacks in: transfer payments and tax policies that reduce poverty. There has also been a decline in government benefits allocated for children; while at the same poverty tends to increase proportionally with the number of children in the family.
The overall trend is in line with a Bank of Israel report released last year, which found that inequality is growing faster in Israel than in other developed countries, with salary gaps between educated and uneducated workers widening over the past 20 years.
Since poverty in Israel affects Arab children disproportionally, the rate is also geographically inconsistent. For example, the new child poverty report finds that in the Jerusalem district and the North, where the majority of residents are Arab, child poverty rates are 59.4 per cent and 49.4 per cent respectively, while in Jewish dominated Tel Aviv the rate is only 23.7 per cent and its centre district even lower, at 15.9 per cent.
In recent years, the poverty rate for Arab children in Israel and Jerusalem has been steadily increasing, with 56.8 per cent of Arab children living in poverty in 2002 and 67.9 per cent in 2012. This poverty is negatively impacting hundreds of thousands of young lives.
Comparing the poverty rates of particular cities across Israel highlights even starker inequalities. For example, the child poverty rate in Arab majority Nazareth is 73.2 per cent, while poor children comprise only 12.4 per cent of the child population in Tel Aviv.