Status of Young Adults in Israel in Key Areas of Life

In recent decades, there has been increasing interest around the world in the period of transition to adulthood, against the background of multiple social changes and structural changes in the labor market. Interest in young adults has also been increasing in Israel, with particular concern for those who are “at risk,” who have particular needs due to personal difficulties or family background and the environmental conditions where they live.

The report presents up-to-date information about young adults aged 18-29 in Israel, in the context of four areas of their lives where they are liable to be at risk: Education, employment and skills; physical existence (financial status), health and safety; personal well-being; and family and social belonging. These areas were defined by an inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral committee for the program Yated (“Stake”) – a national program to advance young men and women aged 18-25 in risk situations. They are based on OECD quality of life measures. The report utilizes multiple sources of information: CBS Household Expenditure Surveys; national and international surveys; data collected by government ministries and official agencies (Israeli and international). The information was analyzed to find the characteristics of young men and women, Jews and Arabs, and different age cohorts. Selected aspects were also analyzed by the level of religiosity in the Jewish sector.

The findings indicate that there are multiple difficulties, some of which are particularly prominent in certain subgroups. The following are examples from various areas:

  • 28% of young adults aged 25-29 have completed high school without a matriculation certificate or have not completed high school. This percentage is higher among men (34%) than women (19%) and higher among Arabs (40%) than Jews (23%).
  • Although the level of education of women aged 25-29 is higher, they earn a lower average wage than men and their financial status is not as good as the men’s.
  • 22% of young adults aged 18-24 live in families below the poverty line. This percentage is higher among the Arabs (43%) than the Jews (15%). Moreover, a higher percentage of Arab young adults aged 20-24 who are working are dissatisfied with their jobs and have a sense of job insecurity.
  • 14% of the young adults aged 20-24 reported experiencing two emotional difficulties such as depression, stress, or difficulty coping with problems “all the time” or “frequently” in the previous year. Among those aged 25-29, the percentage rose to 18%.

Alongside the difficulties found among the various subgroups, note that there are several positive indicators among the majority of young adults. For example, the great majority of those aged 20-29 reported satisfaction with life; most reported that they enjoy emotional support (mainly from the family); most think that their lives will be better in the coming years. The percentage of young Israelis aged 25-29 who are NEET (not in employment, education or training) is lower than the average in OECD countries.

The study was commissioned by JDC-Ashalim and funded with its assistance. The findings will serve professionals working with young adults in Israel, as the basis for developing policy and programs, including the Yated steering committee.