Middle class ‘in crisis’
ISRAEL’S MIDDLE class has shrunk from a third of the country’s households at the end of the 1980s to just 27.6 per cent today.
According to a survey by the Adva Centre for equality and social justice, the majority (56 per cent) of the households that have dropped out of the middle class have fallen into a lower socio-economic bracket.
“The result of this trend,” said Dr Shlomo Swirski, the centre’s academic director, “is that we have a middle class that cannot guarantee that its children will remain middle class.”
Dr Swirski told the JC that the fall in the middle-class sector, traditionally seen as the backbone of the economy, stemmed from two decades’ of wage reduction. The few sectors in which wages were rising, said Dr Swirski, were in finance and high-tech. But due to cuts in the education budget and less private money available in middle-class households, it was getting harder for young Israelis to receive the university education they needed to enter a highpaying career.
“If you want a classic definition of the middle class, it’s a class that can give its children a good education,” Dr Swirski said.
The only way to reverse the trend was for the government to put education at the top of its priorities. “We need more young people in higher education,” he said. “It’s only 30 per cent today, which is very low.”