Poverty, education and employment in the Arab-Bedouin society: A comparative view
The socio-economic situation of the Arab-Bedouin population in the Negev is examined in light of the general Israeli Arab population. Based on the Galilee Society's social survey for 2004 Israeli Arab poverty incidence was found to be 52% with nearly two thirds in persistent poverty. Among Bedouins in villages unrecognized by the Israeli government it was nearly 80% with poverty severity about 7 times higher than that of the mainstream Jewish population in Israel, i.e. excluding the – predominantly poor – Jewish ultra-orthodox society. Poverty was calculated according to various definitions. Similarly to international evidence, we found that education, age, family size, employment and occupation of the household head and the number of income earners in the family are important determinants of the probability to be poor. Arab women's student enrollment rates over different generations improved considerably, reducing the education-gap compared to Arab men. Bedouin households, especially in non-recognized villages, were found to have much less access to infrastructure compared to other Arabs, thus forming a significant barrier to women’s participation in the labor force. This also had an adverse indirect effect toward the completion of schooling, thus keeping mothers’ fertility relatively high and reducing education's potentially diminishing effect on poverty. A considerable mismatch between skills and employment was found among Arab academics, thus hinting at discrimination and segregation in their labor market. Considering the various mentioned transmission mechanisms it seems that government intervention in infrastructure may yield a high social return and help interrupt the vicious circle of poverty.
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