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Israel can halve poverty in 5 years

January 15, 2007. Globes: Shay Niv
Dr. Jacob Sheinin, an economist, has claimed that Israel can halve poverty within five years. In a special report which he is due to present at the upcoming conference on economic policy at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, Sheinin claims that poverty can be virtually eliminated within 10 years. Israel currently has a poverty rate of 20.6%, against the average of 10.2% in other developed countries, with most of the poverty focused in the Arab and haredi (ultra orthodox) populations.

Sheinin claims that the goal can be achieved by scrapping child benefit, which is now paid for every child, regardless of socio-economic background. According to him, the state now spends NIS 4 billion a year on child benefits, most of which goes to families that are not even poor. According to the figures in his report, only NIS 1.8 billion in child benefit went to families below, or on the poverty line, against NIS 2.2. billion paid to families above it.

Dr. Sheinin believes that there is a direct link between low level of education and poverty. “The system encourages higher birthrates but provides children with a level of education that is one of the lowest of all developed countries,” he says.

Dr. Sheinin also calls for an end to the employment of the 100,000 foreign workers working with a permit as well as the additional 100,000 illegall foreign workers, and says that such a step is central to the integration of Israelis in the labor market. This, he claims, will result in a 25% increase in salaries at the lower levels. He also claims that reducing the employment of foreign workers will cause an increase in investment in low-technology industries, a move that is essential if Israelis are to be expected to be willing to make their livelihoods in them.

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