A study by Tel Chai College indicates that the social and economic gap between the north and the center of the country has grown over the past decade, despite the establishment during that time of the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and Periphery, as well as numerous legislative initiatives to draw people to the north.
According to the study, the north loses about 2,000 residents annually, many of them headed to the center of the country, where salaries and social conditions are better. The study shows that 43 percent of workers in the north earn no more than minimum wage, compared to 34 percent in the center. The percentage of minimum wage earners in the north grew 22 percent over the past decade.
Also growing was the gap between the number of students who achieved a bagrut (matriculation) certificate after high school. 72 percent of northern students are eligible to take the bagrut tests, compared to 81 percent in the center. Ten years ago, the gap was not more than 5 percent.
According to Professor Doron Lavie of the College, the phenomenon is an example of a “vicious cycle,” in which negative results feed on other negative events. “What needs to be done is to introduce incentives that will encourage more businesses and factories to open in the north, attracting more people with better quality jobs,” he said.
Currently, there are no special incentives for businesses to open and operate in the north. Legislation on the matter has been stuck in various Knesset committees for about a year.