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.”

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