The State of Israel has launched its first report assessing quality of life, sustainability, and national resilience in Israel. Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, Chairman of the National Economic Council Prof. Avi Simhon, and Government Statistician Prof. Danny Pfeffermann presented the report in the Knesset (Parliament) on March 16, 2016.
How's Life in Israel?
Entitled "How’s Life?," the report measuring well-being and sustainability provides a broad picture of well-being in Israel today, in terms of its economy, society, and the environment. The well-being indicators are intended to complete the economic indicator traditionally used to gauge the situation in a country: the gross domestic product (GDP).
This reports provides comprehensive, relevant, and up-to-date information on the state of quality of life in Israel. It relates to all areas that contribute to quality of life:
- Personal safety
- Housing and infrastructure
- Education and skills
- Personal and social welfare
- Civic engagement and governance
- Material standard of living
Two additional areas will be developed in the future:
- Technology and information
- Recreation, culture, and community
Eight indicators have been selected to assess each of the aforementioned 11 areas that together affect our quality of life.
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: Economic growth is important, but the ‘penetration theory’ regarding that growth has failed, especially in countries with large gaps between the haves and the have-nots, like there are in Israel. It is clear that as we reduce the gaps, growth is increased. We transfer from the strong to the weak, so that the weak will consume and increase economic growth. We must be concerned that there be growth, for without growth we have nothing. We will use this report as a tool. Every topic that the government debates must be tied to these indicators. If we make reforms, but they do not affect these indicators, then they will not have an impact on life in Israel. Government action must be in accordance with these indicators.
Some Findings of Israel's Report on Well-being and Sustainability
- The employment rate in Israel is on an upward trend, from 49.7% in 2000 to 60.4% in 2014.
- The employment rate was higher in the Jewish population (64%) than the Arab population (42.5%) in 2014.
Personal Safety (Note: these data are valid for 2014, before the 2015 terror wave began)
- In 2014, 73% of Israelis ages 20+ felt safe walking alone at in the evening in their neighborhoods. Men felt more confident than women (84% vs. 63%, respectively). Those aged 20-64 felt safer than people 65 and over (75% vs. 64%, respectively). Arabs felt safer than Jews (83% vs. 72%, respectively). In cities with more than 200,000 residents, the feeling of safety was highest in Rishon Lezion (78%); it was lowest in Ashdod (61%).
- Sexual harassment and sexual offenses: In 2014, 1.8% of Israelis 20+ reported suffering from sexual harassment. Young people were victims of sexual harassment at significantly higher rates than adults. For example, about 7% of women aged 20-34 had been sexually harassed or abused, compared with 1.4% of women aged 35 and over.
- From 2000-2014, life expectancy increased in Israel by 3.6 years for men (from 76.7 to 80.3) and 3.2 years for women (from 80.9 to 84.1).
- Obesity and overweight: In 2012, 27% of Israeli students up to 9th grade were either obese or overweight.
- Depression: In 2013, 34% of Israelis ages 20+ felt depressed often or occasionally; 9% often feel depressed. 49% of Arabs felt depressed often or occasionally, compared with 30% of Jews. 40% of women felt depressed often or occasionally, compared with 27% of men.
- Smoking: In 2013, 16.2% of Israelis ages 21+ smoked at least one cigarette a day – 21.9% of men and 10.8% of women. The percentage of smokers in Israel (16.2%) is lower than the OECD average (19.7%) and similar to Finland and Denmark.
Housing and Infrastructure
- Those living in an apartment they own are much more satisfied than those who live in rentals (89% vs. 74%, respectively). Of the 14 Israeli cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, the highest proportion of tenants that are satisfied with their homes is in Bnei Brak (93%) and the lowest proportion is in Bat Yam and Jerusalem (77%).
- Of the 14 largest cities, the highest rate of residents satisfied with their neighborhood was in Ramat Gan (93%) and the lowest was in Jerusalem (75%).
Education and Skills
- Among 30-year-olds, the percentage of Israelis with at least a college degree rose from 44% in 2001 to 54.1% in 2014. The percentage of Israeli Arabs with at least a college degree was significantly lower than among Israeli Jews (33.2% vs. 59.6%, respectively).
- According to the OECD’s 2012 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) study, the percentage of those that have difficulties in math fell from 42% in 2006 to 34% in 2012. This percentage is significantly higher in Arabic-speaking schools (67%) than in Hebrew-speaking schools (24%). Between 2006-2012, the percentage of people with math difficulties decreased in Hebrew-speaking schools (from 35% to 24%), while the rate remained virtually unchanged in Arabic-speaking schools.
- The percentage of energy produced from renewable sources in Israel was 0.21% in 2013, and the percentage of electricity produced from renewables was 0.94%. Electricity generation from renewables in Israel is the lowest among all OECD countries (average: 21%).
- Noise level in residential areas: 37% of Israelis aged 20+ reported they experienced noise nuisances while at home in 2013; 38% of those complaining were women and 35% were men. Of the 14 largest Israel cities, the highest rate of noise complaints was in Bat Yam (54%) and the lowest was in Be’er Sheva (29%).
- Parks and green spaces: 56% of Israelis aged 20+ were satisfied or very satisfied with the parks and green spaces in their neighborhoods in 2013. 64% of Israeli Jews were satisfied with parks and green spaces, compared with 14% of Israeli Arabs.
Personal and social welfare
- In 2013, among Israelis aged 20+, 86% were satisfied with their lives. Jews were satisfied with their lives more than Arabs (89% vs. 73%, respectively). 55% of those aged 20+ assumed their lives would improve. Of those that believed their lives would improve, 56% were Jews and 49% were Arabs.
- Loneliness: In 2013, 28% of Israelis aged 20+ felt lonely often or occasionally. Women felt lonely more often than men. 47% of Arabs felt loneliness, compared with 24% of Jews. From 2010-2013, there was a moderate increase in the sense of loneliness, from 25% to 28%.
Civic engagement and governance
- Between 2001-2013, electoral participation rates in Israel were stable at about 65%, with minor fluctuations. Voter participation increased to 72.3% in the 2015 elections.
- Volunteer activities: The percentage of Israelis involved in volunteer activities gradually rose, from 15% in 2002 to 20% in 2013. In 2012, the percentage of those engaged in volunteer activities in Israel was slightly higher (20%) than the OECD average (18%).
Material living conditions
- Household debt: By the end of 2013, household debt in Israel totaled NIS 500 billion, about 47% of the country’s GDP. This was a significantly lower percentage than in most OECD countries. (In Spain it was 79%, in France 63%, in Germany 56%, and in Italy 49%).
- In 2014, individual consumption amounted to NIS 89.5 thousand per capita, compared to NIS 55.2 thousand in 2000.
- Satisfaction with the economic situation of households in Israel: 53% of Israelis aged 20+ were satisfied with their financial situation in 2013. 8% were very satisfied. Men were more satisfied than women (55% vs. 51%, respectively).
The report is the result of two Government Resolutions (No. 5255 from 2012 and No. 2494 from 2015), and of an in-depth effort to formulate indicators for quality of life, sustainability, and national strength.
Writing of the report was headed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP), the National Economic Council, and the Central Bureau of Statistics. More than 200 experts from the government, the Bank of Israel, and the National Insurance Institute, as well as researchers, academics, and public sector officials worked on it. They received assistance from the OECD, which has overseen the writing of similar reports in other countries. They also got help from a steering committee that was established for this purpose, as well as cooperation from many members of the Israeli public.
As a result of a 2016 Government Resolution, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics will publish the well-being indicators on an annual basis.