Israeli Poverty Rate Shoots Up, Affecting Children in Particular

Although final figures are not yet in for 1991, a report released this week shows that the number of poverty-stricken people in Israel is up considerably and is still climbing.

The number of Israelis living below the poverty line in 1990 reached 537,700, representing 16.9 percent of the population, according to the annual report of the National Insurance Institute, which was released Tuesday.

The figure was up from the 14.6 percent of the previous year and continued to increase through 1991.

The report’s release caused quite a stir here and prompted independent Knesset member Charlie Biton, a former member of the Hadash Communist bloc, to introduce a motion of no confidence in the government. He urged all opposition parties to support it. The report for fiscal 1990 showed a sharp rise in the number of impoverished children. Nearly a quarter of a million children, representing 22.3 percent of all Israeli children, were registered as impoverished, up from 18.6 percent in 1989.

Among families, 14.3 percent were under the poverty line in 1990, up from 12.8 percent in the previous year.

Yossi Tamir, the Insurance Institute’s deputy director general for research and planning, told reporters that although the institute had not yet analyzed the data for 1991, the poverty situation probably deteriorated still further last year.

According to an international survey conducted last year that compared poverty levels in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Germany, England and Israel in 1986-87, only the United States had a higher percentage rate of population under the poverty line than Israel.

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