OECD Social, Employment, and Migration Working Papers No. 102: Labour Market and Socio-Economic Outcomes of the Arab-Israeli Population

The Arab-Israeli population age 15-64 in 2007 numbered 783.5 thousand and comprised 18.2% of the total Israeli population in this age group. The report analyzes current (2007 data) labour market outcomes, as well as trends over time, by various socio-demographic characteristics. It generally relates to the Arab population as a whole, selectively highlighting differences among sub-groups within the Arab population, such as Moslems, Christians, Druze and Bedouin.  It also examines quality of employment indicators such as type of occupation and income from work, as well as indicators of job satisfaction and the perception of working in a field related to one’s studies. This is of particular interest with respect to Arab-Israelis with academic degrees.

Arab-Israelis have lower labour force participation and employment rates compared to Jews, which has a negative impact on their economic wellbeing. The gaps are not very large for men – 65.6% (Arabs) compared with 70.8% (Jews) in participation, and 59.3% compared with 66.3% in employment, but are very large for women – 22% vs. 68.2% in participation and 18.6% compared with 63.1% in employment.

The report addresses some of the main factors that account for the labour market situation of Arab-Israelis: gaps in human capital (education, computer literacy, Hebrew proficiency); residence in the periphery where employment opportunities are more limited; traditional cultural restrictions on women; and discrimination in access to public resources on the one hand and in the practices of employers on the other. Two additional factors that are particularly affecting the trends over time are: the changes in the labour market as a result of the radical shift to a high-tech oriented economy and the phasing out of significant sectors of traditional industry, and the significant increase in the number of foreign workers in Israel, who in sectors such as agriculture and construction directly compete with less educated Arab workers.

 The report concludes with a description of recent initiatives that can help improve the labour market situation of Arab-Israelis. These include both general national initiatives targeted at disadvantaged groups and governmental and private sector initiatives focusing specifically on the Arab population. The latter include both programs to enhance labour market skills, and expand job opportunities, among others, through economic development in areas where there are concentrations of Arab residents and efforts to influence employer hiring practices in the private and public sectors and to better link the Arab job seekers with the opportunities.

The statistical data analyzed in the report derive primarily from three types of surveys conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel (CBS): (1) The Labour Force Surveys (LFS) 1990-2007; (2) The Social Survey 2007; (3) The Income Survey 2007.

Citing suggestion: Habib, J., King, J., Ben Shoham, A., Wolde tesadick & Lasky, k. (2010).OECD Social, Employment, and Migration Working Papers No. 102: Labour Market and Socio-Economic Outcomes of the Arab-Israeli Population 2010. RR-563-10. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)