New Israeli Think Tank

Israel spends 20 percent of its gross national product for social services such as welfare, education and health, the same amount it devotes to national defense, according to the first report issued by the Jerusalembased Center for Social and Political Studies in Israel.

The report was released simultaneously with the announcement here of the establishment of the new Center by officials of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) which aided in its establishment and continues to help finance it. The Center is headed by Dr. Israel Katz, a former Israeli Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. It is modeled on the Brookings Institution in Washington. JDC president Harry Taub, who congratulated Katz, said the Center “will prove to be a significant tool for social planning in Israel.”

According to the report, the largest portion of the Israel government’s allocation for social services is for income maintenance (welfare) at 40 percent. Allocations for education are 30 percent and health, 20 percent with an additional 10 percent for personal and community social services.

HEALTH CARE COST INCREASE

The report predicted a significant growth in health care costs in Israel in the years ahead, due in part to the aging of the population, a growing proportion of which is aged 75 or older. It noted that Israel’s elderly population grew at double the rate of the general population in the last ten years. Although the rate of its growth will be moderated in the 1980s, the increases will still exceed the increases in the general population by 25 percent, the report said.

The burden on medical services therefore will be particularly severe in the area of hospitalization and there will be a need for “expanded alternatives to hospitalization such as day care units,” according to the Center’s report.

The report also projected increased costs in the area of education, partly due to the increased number of students attending secondary schools which have a higher per capita cost than elementary schools.

The authors of the report were, among others, Dr. Yaakov Kop, project director; Dr. Yaakov Habib, director of the JDC/Brookdale Institute; and Prof. Gur Ofer of the Hebrew University.

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