Jerusalem (Nov. 4)
Living standards in Israel rose by a near record 12 percent during the first six months of this year, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics today in connection with the publication of the government’s annual statistical report.
The rise was attributed to lower taxes on a variety of consumer goods instituted by Finance Minister Yoram Aridor and larger individual income resulting from lowered income tax. Those factors triggered purchases of expensive items such as color television and private cars. Expenditures on consumer goods were 25 percent higher than in the same period last year.
The only similar rise in living standards was recorded in 1967 when an economic boom replaced the slump that preceded the Six-Day War.
BIRTH RATE DECLINES
But Israelis received less assuring news on the demographic front today. According to the statistical annual, population growth in 1981 was the slowest for any year since the State was founded in 1948. The increase in the Jewish population was only one percent compared to a 2.8 percent growth in the non-Jewish population. In past years the Jewish population grew at an annual rate of two percent compared to a 3.5 percent rate in the non-Jewish population.
The figures released today showed that natural increase was smaller this year then in previous years. Most troubling was the excess of emigration over immigration. Israelis leaving the country exceeded immigrants arriving by more than 9000. About 20,000 emigrated this year while only 11,000 new settlers arrived.
The Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that a total of 300,000 Israelis left the country permanently since the State was established. In the same period, Israeli women tended to bear fewer children. There was an increase in divorces and a decline in marriages. By the end of this year, the total population of Israel will be 3.9 million, just short of the four million predicted last year.