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Social and Economic Inequality in Israel

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In terms of net income (after taxes and diminishing welfare payments), Israeli poverty is high, "among the highest in the developed world." In fact, rates have risen sharply in the last decade, including in working households. 

According to Central Bureau of Statistics data, the percent of poor households headed by a wage earner rose from 43% in 1997 to nearly 58% in December 2009. The trend reflects government policy to encourage work by reducing public assistance, the objective being to elevate people from poverty.

In fact, however, many families moved from "the idle poor to the working poor," little better off than before. Though mainly an Arab problem, increasing numbers of Jews are also affected.

Moreover, employed Israelis work more weekly hours than counterparts in most other OECD countries, while "the country's average standard of living is lower" by comparison, a testimony to a failed system like America's after decades of shifting wealth upward to the top few percent.

As a result, Taub sees trouble ahead for Israel's economy based on three measures:

-- its standard of living;

-- poverty rate; and

-- extent of social inequality.

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