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העוני וההתנהגות בשוק העבודה בחברה החרדית
[Poverty and Labor Market Behavior in the Ultra-Orthodox Population in Israel]


  • Gottlieb, Daniel


The Haredi (Jewish ultra-orthodox) population in Israel is an idiosyncratic community. Its members are committed to the observance of the Bible and its commandments, as interpreted by its sectarian religious leaders. Haredi poverty is exceptionally high, with a share of 20% of the Israeli poor and a population share half that size. Its major causes are very high Haredi fertility (a population growth of 6% p.a.), reducing household income per capita and the mother’s earning capacity; its independent education system’s neglect (particularly among boys) of materially important subjects for future earning capacity such as Mathematics, English and digital skills; and low labor-force participation of Haredi men, due to prolonged learning in religious seminars (Yeshiva), often deeply into the prime working age. A further cause for the sharp increase in poverty in the short term has been the recent large cuts in child benefit payments. The estimation of the size and composition of the Haredi population is based on data from the Israeli Social Survey. Poverty calculations are based on an innovative way of optimally matching data on Haredi group membership from that source with data in the Household Expenditure Survey, thus allowing for improved identification of poor Haredi households compared to previous studies. Poverty is calculated both on a needs-based approach and on the (official) relative approach. The share of Haredi children up to age 4 is nearly 3 times higher than in the Jewish non-Haredi society. This, together with the empirical regularity of a negative relationship between poverty and age, implies an upward trend for Haredi and overall Israeli poverty over time. Haredi Poverty, as measured by the distribution-sensitive Sen-poverty index, nearly doubled over the last three years after a previous significant improvement. This deterioration stands in contrast to developments in the rest of the Israeli-Jewish society, whose poverty intensity increased only slightly over the last couple of years. In 2004 the Haredi men’s labor force participation of 37% only slightly exceeded one half that of the general Jewish population, mainly due to the high enrollment of Haredi men in religious seminars (Yeshiva) during their prime working age. Despite their much higher fertility, women function as the family’s main providers, with a participation rate of 48%, compared to 58% of non-Haredi women.

Suggested Citation

  • Gottlieb, Daniel, 2007. "העוני וההתנהגות בשוק העבודה בחברה החרדית
    [Poverty and Labor Market Behavior in the Ultra-Orthodox Population in Israel]
    ," MPRA Paper 4024, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Huang, Jidong, 2006. "The Earnings of American Jewish Men: Human Capital, Denomination and Religiosity," IZA Discussion Papers 2301, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
    3. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975.
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    More about this item


    Poverty; Religion; Israel; Ethnic groups; Ultra-Orthodox; Alternative Poverty Measures;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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