More than 1.7 million citizens of Israel live in poverty today, some 21.7% of the population, according to the annual poverty report released by the National Insurance Institute on Thursday, December 15. The data also broke down the poverty rates between different population groups in Israel. Among the Arab population, the rate of poverty increased to 53.3% in 2015 from 52.6% in 2014, while the poverty rate among Arab children during this same period rose from 63.5% to 65.6%. Among ultra-Orthodox families, the poverty rate decreased from 54.3% in 2014 to 48.7% in 2015, accounting for 17% of poor families in Israel. The reason for the decrease among the ultra-Orthodox, the report notes, is primarily due to the increase in income due to employment and the reinstatement of child allowances.
When compared with developed capitalist countries, Israel still has the highest poverty rates of all member states in the OECD, the report noted. While the GINI index of inequality showed a slight improvement in Israel since the previous year, the country continues to remain among those with the highest rates of inequality.
According to the report, which is based on data gathered by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2015 there were 1,712,900 people, including 460,800 families and 764,200 children living below the poverty line. The report found that the overall poverty rate decreased from 22% in 2014 while the number of families living in poverty increased from 18.8% in 2014 to 19.1% in 2015. Poverty among children decreased from 31% in 2014 to 30% in 2015 and poverty among the elderly decreased from 22.3% in 2014 to 21.7% in 2015.
The data also indicated that the poor in 2015 became even poorer. The index of the depth of poverty, that is, the gap between family income and the poverty line, increased by some 3.2% reaching 35.7%. In working families with one working member, the poverty rate increased from 25.4% in 2014 to 25.9% in 2015, while in working families with two workers the poverty rate remained the same as the previous year: 5.6%.
For families with children, the poverty rate decreased from 23.3% in 2014 to 23.2% in 2014. Among single parent families, the decrease in the rate of poverty was even more pronounced, dropping by 13% to a level of 21.8% in 2015. However, the findings indicate that the depth of poverty among families with children increased overall by 4%.