Income Differences in Israel Still Wide, Although Less Than in the Past

The Azrieli buildings, as seen over the Ayalon Highway and river at night in Tel Aviv. (Esther Rubyan/Flash 90)
The Azrieli buildings, as seen over the Ayalon Highway and River at night in Tel Aviv. (Esther Rubyan/Flash90)

The top earners in Israel bring in about NIS 35,000 a month, while they spend about NIS 19,000 on average, according to numbers released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). For the bottom earners – those in the bottom three deciles of income – the average income is about NIS 4,000, but their living expenses amount to NIS 7,000.

The numbers relate to 2015, and in that year the average income of Israeli households was NIS 18,671 from earnings, transfer payments, interest and asset income, and other sources. After taxes, the average household had NIS 15,427 to spend, while expenses stood at NIS 12,323 per month. NIS 14,470 of household income on average came from wages, and NIS 2,039 came from support and transfer payments.

In the top six deciles of income earners, income exceeded expenses, with the top households earning NIS 35,244 and spending NIS 19,877. In the fourth decile, where income came to NIS 10,906 and outlay was NIS 10,793, saving was impossible, although households earned more than they spent. Below that level, however, outlay exceeded income. In the bottom decile, households earned NIS 4,275, while expenses stood at NIS 7,601. The difference was made up in assistance from charitable organizations.

The biggest expense for all households was housing, which on average stood at NIS 3,812 per household, 24.7 percent of household income. In 2014, the average outlay was NIS 3,692 for housing. The next most expensive outlay was for transportation, which came to NIS 3,094 on average in 2015, compared to NIS 2,984 in 2014. Food expenses (not including fresh vegetables) on average cost households NIS 2,032 in 2015, with vegetables adding NIS 485 to the food bill. Also included in average household outlays were costs for entertainment (NIS 1,818), household maintenance (NIS 1,463), health (NIS 873), and clothing (NIS 490).

With that, the CBS said, the Gini coefficient – a measure of income distribution and inequality in an economy – fell in 2015, meaning that Israel’s economy had somewhat less inequality in income distribution compared to the previous year.