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The Bedouin in Israel - Facts and Figures

May 2017

In 2015, there were 239,500 Bedouins living in Israel’s Southern District, the Negev, up from 115,000 in 2000.1   
About 75% of the population live in 18 officially recognized localities, with the rest living in smaller unrecognized villages.  
The rapid growth over the past 15 years is related to the high fertility rates, although these have declined in recent years. Between 2007 and 2015, the Bedouin fertility rate dropped from 7.14 to 5.5.  Still, the Bedouin fertility rate remains much higher than for all Arab women and the general Israeli population (both 3.1).



High School Dropout Rate

From 2011/12 to 2014/15, the high school dropout rate declined from 41% to 29% among 17-year-old Bedouin youth.
Still, the Bedouin dropout rate was much higher than it was for all Arabs (13%) and the broader Israeli population (5%).3 

The dropout rate for Bedouin boys is much higher than that for Bedouin girls.

High School Matriculation 

The rate of eligibility for a university-level matriculation certificate increased from 12% in 2000/01 to 22% in 2014/15.  
The increase was much greater among Bedouin girls than Bedouin boys.
The overall rate (22%) remains well below the average for all Arabs and for Jews.4 (Figure 1)
Higher Education

Consistent with the improvement in their high school matriculation rates, there is significant increase in the numbers of Bedouin students attending higher education.
Between 2007/08 and 2015/16, the number of Bedouin students studying for their bachelor's degree in institutions of higher education more than doubled from 1,153 to 2,632 (Figure 2).
The increase is significantly higher among Bedouin women.
Because the number of Bedouin living in unrecognized villages is not accurately reflected in national surveys, employment data among the Bedouin is limited to those living in recognized localities.  Table 1 shows data from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics’ Labor Force Survey. 
The employment rate of Bedouin men is 60%, well below that of both Arabs and Jews.  
The rate among Bedouin women is much lower (22%), and the gap with Jewish women is very significant.

1. Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
2. CBS, Statistical Abstract of Israel (2016), Table 3.11.
3. MJB special analysis of Ministry of Education, Matriculation data, and CBS population data.
4. MJB special analysis of Ministry of Education, Matriculation data.   Data for Arabs do not include Arabs in East Jerusalem.  Data for Jews includes ultra-Orthodox Jews
5. MJB special analysis of Israel Central Bureau of Statistics data.  
6. CBS, Labor Force Survey, 2015.
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