Israeli Poverty Rate Hits 12 Percent; Elderly and Children Are Most Affected

Despite a booming Israeli economy, about 12 percent of Israel’s population, or some 648,000 Israelis, lived below the poverty line in 1993, according to the National Insurance Institute.

The report released this week said the number of Israeli poor in 1993 rose by 5.4 percent over the previous year. But there were marked increases among the elderly and among large families.

According to the report, the number of elderly poor rose by 16 percent and the number of families below the poverty line increased by 13 percent over the previous year. The figures showed that some 279,000 Israeli children were living in poverty.

In contrast, the number of immigrants living below the poverty line dropped by more than 30 percent. In previous years, the massive influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union had caused an acceleration in poverty.

The poverty line was defined as households living on less than half the average national wage, which the Central Bureau of Statistics set at $1,327 a month.

At a news conference marking the report’s release, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ora Namir said a drop in unemployment during 1993 had slowed the increase in poverty.

But she said the government’s anti-poverty plan, which was approved this year to try to push 50,000 families over the poverty line, had no effect on the 1993 figures.

Labor Ministry officials said that in addition to the anti-poverty plan, other measures were being considered, including increases in child and disability allowances.

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