Poverty Report Shows 16% of Poor Families Are Chareidi

A Yerushalayim chessed organization prepares chicken for distribution before Yom Kippur. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) report on poverty in Israel shows that the number of poor among children and the elderly has grown. The report, which reflects data for 2018, shows there were 469,000 families living under the poverty line, totaling 1,810,500 people. Of those, 841,700 were children under 18 years of age.

Chareidim suffered from poverty significantly more than non-chareidim. 16% of all poor families were chareidi families, double their relative numbers in the population. The incidence of poverty among chareidi families rose 5% between 2017 and 2018.

In contrast, the situation brightened for Arab families, who, along with chareidim generally, were among the poorest Israelis. 45.3% of Arab families were poor in 2018, down from 47.1% in 2017.

There was an increase in the number of poor elderly; 18.8% were poor, compared to 17.2% a year earlier. The NII said that this was because most elderly were on fixed incomes, and the overall increase in living standards among Israelis had raised the level of the poverty line, pushing more elderly below it even if their incomes had not changed.

Individuals earning less than NIS 3,593 per month and couples earning less than NIS 5,750 a month are considered poor. A family of six needed to earn at least NIS 12,218 in order to escape that designation. Among OECD nations, Israel’s poor were the fourth poorest, along with the U.S., Turkey, and South Korea, and its poor children were the second poorest, faring better only than Turkey.

NII director Meir Shplinger said that “although there were some positive aspects of the report, much work needs to be done. The government is committed to continue and invest efforts to reduce the level of poverty significantly, especially for children and the elderly.”

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