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Israel's Ethiopian Population: Progress and Challenges

May 2015

(Sources are noted in parentheses, with full citations listed at the bottom of the page.)

At the end of 2013, there were 135,300 Ethiopian-Israelis (1) 

  • Ethiopian-Israelis report very high identification with Israel and the Jewish people on a range of indicators.
  • 38% of Ethiopian immigrants have arrived since 2000. (2)  Thus, beyond the challenge of long-term integration, many are still facing the difficulties of the shorter term.
  • In 2011, 43% of Ethiopian-Israeli families had 3 or more children, compared with 31% of all Jewish families. (3)
  • Over one-third of Ethiopian-Israeli families with children are single-parent families, nearly double the rate among all Jewish families (2009-11 average). (4)


  • Gaps in educational achievements in elementary school have shrunk, since the initiation of the JDC-Israel PACT early childhood program in 2000.
  • Rates of eligibility for a general matriculation certificate increased from 31% in 2001 to 48% in 2013 for 17-year-old Ethiopian-Israelis.  The rates are still below the 60% rate for all Jewish 17-year-olds (including Haredim) in 2013. (5)
    The gap is larger for a university-eligible matriculation certificate, although there have been significant improvements—from 12% in 2001 to 27% in 2013, compared with 51% for the total Jewish population. (5)  
  • Ethiopian girls now far exceed Ethiopian boys in their rate of success on the matriculation exams, so that the gaps with the total Jewish population are much smaller for girls and much larger for boys.
  • Among Ethiopian-Israeli adults (ages 22-64), 43% of women and 26% of men have little or no schooling, compared with 2% in the total Jewish population (2010-11 average). (6)

Social Deviance

  • Whereas among immigrants from the former Soviet Union there are dramatic improvements from the first to the second generation, the picture is mixed among Ethiopian immigrants.  Of particular concern is the increase in a range of indicators of risk behaviors among Ethiopian youth.  (7)


  • Between 2000 and 2013, employment rates for Ethiopian-Israeli women ages 22-64 rose dramatically from 37% to 69%, and from 62% to 76% for men (compared with the 2013 rate of 77% for all Jewish women and 80% for all Jewish men). (1, 8)
  • In 2013, 19% of Ethiopian-Israeli men and 33% of Ethiopian-Israeli women were employed as unskilled workers, compared with 4% among the total Jewish population. (1)
  • The hourly wage rate for Ethiopian-Israelis was 65% of the rate for all Jews in 2011. (9) 


  • Gaps in family size, education, and wages translate into major gaps in economic status between Ethiopian-Israel families and other Jewish families.
  • Recent dramatic increases in housing costs have particularly influenced young Ethiopian-Israel families.
  • Poverty rates are very high: in 2011, 39% of Ethiopian-Israeli families lived in poverty, compared with 14% of all Jewish families.  Most are working poor families. (9)


(1) Israel Central Bureau of Statistics special data file, 2013.

(2) Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2014 Statistical Abstract, Table 4.4.

(3) MJB Special analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey, 2011.

(4) MJB Special analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey, 2009, 2010, 2011.

(5) MJB special analysis of data from the Ministry of Education, Examinations Division and Data Processing Administration, "Matriculation Exams Data 2013,” Jerusalem 2014.

(6) MJB Special analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey, 2010, 2011.

(7) Kahan-Strawczynski, P., Amiel, S., Levi, D., Konstantinov, V. First and Second Generations of Immigrant Youth from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union – Similarities and Differences.    Jerusalem:  Myers JDC-Brookdale Institute, 2012.

(8) MJB Special analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey, 2000.

(9) MJB Special analysis of Central Bureau of Statistics Income Survey, 2011.


  Israel's Ethiopian Population May 2015
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