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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Required Reading: A Smorg of Economic Stats

The Jerusalem Post has a very interesting editorial titled Downhill, by the numbers. This report looks at numerous economic indicators in Israel, only one of which is particularly positive. I'm always amazed how new articles on my radar seem to continue a subject from a different post. This post provides more background on the outrageous statements made by Gafni which I posted about on Friday, In Other Words. . . It's the Man's Fault.

The article examines a number of economic indicators shared by the researcher Prof. Ben-David of the Taub Center for Social Policy Study who believes that the "findings show an unsustainable burden is being placed on the fewer and fewer Israelis who can contribute effectively. Reform is urgent, and it must begin with education."

Here are some of the economic indicators of note from the article:
*GDP: Israel had caught up with the G-7's rising rate by the 1970s, but has been slipping steadily behind over the past 30 years or so.
*Brain Drain: For every 100 British academic scholars at work in Britain, 2.1 British scholars had moved to the US. For France, the number was 2.9. For Italy, 4.2. For Canada, 12.2. And for Israel, 24.9.
*He gave me worrying figures on labor productivity – Israel had caught up with the G-7’s rising rate by the 1970s, but has been slipping steadily behind over the past 30 years or so. And then he described the related fall-off in GDP – the data that essentially governs our living standards: *Welfare: In 1979, 26 percent of Israeli families lived below the poverty line before tax and welfare adjustments. By 2008, that figure was 32.3% – a vast increase compared to the OECD countries that are his barometer, leaving Israel second only to the US in terms of the numbers reliant on the overburdened state system.
*Employment: Re able bodied men aged 35-54, non employment in the OECD averages 11.9%. Spain the worst afflicted at 14.5%. In Israel, the rate is 18.9%. In that age group, 27% of Israeli Arab males and 65.1% of haredim are unemployed.
*Growth of the Arab and Hareidi Sector: 1960, 15% of kids going into primary school came from the Arab and haredi sectors. By the 1980s, 26%. In 2000, 40%. In 2008, 48%. (The 2040 projection is 78%, but I prefer sticking to the known, not the unknown).
*Employment for those who don't complete high school: In th 29-54 age range, fewer than 10% of Arab women in that demographic have work while 70% of their counterparts with a degree have work. 90% of Arab men and non-hareidi Jewish men and women with degrees have work.

Ben-David points out that these stats are worrying in terms of sovereignty as a nation. Ben-David had a chance to meet with Porush to present his findings and address his concerns regarding education. According to Ben-David: "Porush responded that if only the haredim were exempted from IDF service, more would join the labor force – which is not born out by the data – and he disagreed on the haredi sector’s educational needs. His response was unacceptable. It won’t work."

The positive indicator is one that the religious community and the hareidi community can claim a great deal of credit for: "The average woman aged 15-49 in the OECD countries has 1.7 kids, he noted, with New Zealand topping the league at 2.2. The average Israeli woman in that age-range has three kids."

Read the entire article for Prof. Ben-David's commentary. Also, if you want, see Haaretz which also is covering some of the data.


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

There's a very clear responsible party for this and its not "The Man" -- rather its the askanim and Chareidi politicians.

Different people have suggested a possible radical change to Israeli law a few years ago -- in that Chareidim would be exempt from the draft to the IDF.

Not like today's "Learn in yeshiva or serve in the IDF" -- but a full exemption which would enable Israel's Chareidim to enter university, get a real education, and get decent jobs.

Sounds great, right? Whats the downside?

Obviously, there is a downside, and this idea was trashed by UTJ, Aguda, Degel HaTorah and Shas.

Why? Because if they said it was all a trick get the Chareidi students to abandon yeshiva learning! Why would they go to yeshiva gedola, when they could (chas vishalom) go to university, learn a decent trade, and then, (horrors), earn a decent salary!

Of course -- none of the askanim want their constituents to earn a decent salary, because then the political power of the askanim would decrease.

Its a terrible situation. Of course Porush doesn't want his people working. He'll lose his status...

JS said...

Real question is, what's the solution? The chareidi politicians are controlled by the chareidi rabbis. The chareidis are a tremendously powerful voting block and, as their relative population grows, will only become more powerful.

It seems the democratic process is being hijacked to create a situation where the few support the many. This is likely one of the reasons why there is a brain drain in Israel and why so many Israelis travel abroad for their careers.

A friend who is working in Israel in a lucrative industry (venture capital) told me he's going to come back to America. He can earn about 2-3 times as much and pay less taxes.

mlevin said...

I think that the real solution is to do nothing. And by nothing, I mean do not give any Tzedokah to the poor in Israel, don't support any of their Yeshivahs. There are plenty of other place to give to.

If they will stop receiving handouts, they will have no choice but to go out and find ways to support themselves. Meaning get real jobs.

David said...

I think mlevin is correct. The thing that will force a change is when the not-working community runs out of money. That will be a very, very painful adjustment for them.

Part of what I haven't figured out is how people square Rambam's injunction to "make your sabbath like a weekday rather than accept tzedukah and become a burden to the community" with the notion that not-working is an acceptable lifestyle

donnas said...

It's not the most important stat in the article, but how can anyone not think this stat is completely meaningless?

"Brain Drain: For every 100 British academic scholars at work in Britain, 2.1 British scholars had moved to the US. For France, the number was 2.9. For Italy, 4.2. For Canada, 12.2. And for Israel, 24.9."

Why is he picking only one field of intellectual work? What about lawyers, doctors and MBAs? Is it reasonable to expect Israel to have the opportunities to teach provided by countries which have universities that are significantly larger and drawing from a larger potential student pool than Israel does?

In the Italian case, my understanding is the low number is actually a negative, as it's actually a sign of the dysfunction of the Italian educational system which prevents its academics from finding or looking for more rigorous work elsewhere.

Orthonomics said...

donnas-I don't know how you can't find this particular stat intriguing and concerning in conjunction with the other stats presented. It is far from "completely meaningless."

Critically Observant Jew said...

mlevin: to "do nothing" may be a valid option in the US or anywhere else in CHu"L. However, in Israel it is your taxes that pay the welfare rolls of the non-working, VOTING, chareidi population!

It maybe similar to the welfare society in the US, except that the problem here is smaller.

D said...

among american litvishe haredim who live outside places like lakewood and boro park, there's a silent majority that recognizes the need for college degrees and for better secular studies in the schools.
we are, silently, doing our part to raise haredim who can support themselves honorably.
the change will come to the israeli haredim too, although i doubt the transition will be as smooth.
in the long term, i'd love to see kehillos that combine the sincerity and dedication that haredim have to learning and shmiras hamitsvos with the open mindedness of MOs.
i personally grew up MO world and became haredi after seeing the greater percentage of people sincerely interested in keeping halocho and knowing the devar H' among haredim.
I realize, nevertheless, that I benefit from other aspects of my upbringing and hope to provide a good balance of both worlds to my kids.

Anonymous said...

Deeply troubling problem. My long-time chareidi friend runs a food bank-tzedakah in Yerushalayim and recently solicited me with the handwritten note, "The children are so grateful for anything you can give, even for a cookie!" I decided reluctantly not to give to her chareidi families, because I know from what she has told me that the fathers are involved in full time permanent learning - "They don't work," she told me simply. (I met parents (her guests) from Bnei Brak who were in Boro Park collecting to buy an apartment.) I decided, if a father doesn't have rachmanus on his own children who are going without food, it is he who is at fault, it is he who is morally corrupt, not I who am hard-hearted. How can a father not provide for his own children? How can he sit and learn, or worse, undertake trips to America to "collect", when he could choose to work? Or better yet, get an education so he can get a better job? So I have decided not to give a cent to chareidi people, organizations, and yeshivas. I will not support a corrupt system that leaves children without education and condemns the future generation to poverty, and imperils the future of Israel.

Anonymous said...

I think the Haredi system will just keep going until they hit "rock bottom", in the classic 12-step philosophy. "Enabling" just makes it take longer to hit rock bottom.

I'm not giving them a grush either.

frumskeptic said...

I haven't been giving kollel families either here or in Israel anything.

I also dont give to hachnoses kallah.

Zach Kessin said...

I will admit some resentment, my wife and I are going threw a rough patch, but we are busting our buts to get threw it (its now 9:30pm and I am still at the office). I am working side jobs, cutting spending etc.

So yea it kind of pisses me off when people look at work and go "That looks too hard, and put their hands out"