Poverty in Israel persists, keeping the country behind others in the West, the National Insurance Institute said in a report published Tuesday.
According to the study, 1.6 million Israelis — half of them children — were living in poverty in 2013, out of a total population of 8 million. While the poverty level decreased by a few percentage points in 2013, Israel still had more poverty and wider socio-economic gaps compared to other Western countries.
The NII had warned in 2013 that the cuts in government subsidies for the poor under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid would combine with a VAT hike to bring about 90,000 more people down below the poverty line.
The NII pointed out that Tuesday’s report did not fully reflect the effects of the cuts, since they were only implemented in August 2013.
The effects of the cuts to child benefits were evident, though, as poverty levels for families with two breadwinners and those whose head of the family was unemployed both rose.
At the same time, government aid to help people escape poverty decreased.
The percentage of families living in poverty fell from 19.4 percent in 2012 to 18.6 percent in 2013. The percentage of children living in poverty went from 33.7 in 2012 to 30.8 in 2013.