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Returning Israeli citizens are good for the economy

September 10, 2008. Haaretz: Cnaan Liphshiz
Native Israelis who return to their homeland after emigrating have a greater positive impact on the economy than citizens who never left, according to a study published by the Absorption Ministry yesterday. The ministry announced 2008 as an all-time record year for bringing back ex-Israelis.

The data was released shortly after the Knesset plenum approved a sweeping tax reform designed to attract expatriates and Diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel .

The study was carried out by Halevi Dweck Economic Counseling, based on a statistical evaluation of 18,000 Israelis who returned in the past eight years. It reveals that the majority of returnees are 22 to 44 years old, and that they earn an average of NIS 9,178 monthly, compared to the NIS 7,081 national average wage.

More than 70 percent of returning Israelis are employed, compared to the 53 percent employment rate in the general population. The majority of returning Israelis (53 percent) received a higher education, compared to 40 percent of the general populace.

The most common profession among returning Israelis is medicine, with 12 percent of former expatriates being medical doctors. An additional nine percent are veterinarians, pharmacists, nurses and paramedical professionals. Sixteen percent are teachers and lecturers.

The research also shows that with their contribution to the economy, repatriated Israelis cover the cost of the benefit package afforded by the government within an average period of 18 months from arriving in Israel.

Along with the research, the Absorption Ministry released data showing an unprecedented 50 percent hike in the inflow of returning Israelis in 2008, with 6,500 repatriated individuals and another 14,000 potential returnees worldwide waiting to take the plunge.

By January 2009, the ministry expects to reabsorb 10,000 people, compared to 4,200 individuals in 2007. Projections into 2009 point to an additional 30 percent growth during that year.

Absorption Ministry officials, including incoming minister Eli Aflalo, attribute this increase to the widely-reported tax reform. But even the all-time record fails to put a serious dent in the Israeli expatriate population, which the Absorption Ministry puts at approximately 700,000 worldwide
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