The number of poor families in Israel constituted 17.9 percent of the population in 2004, exceeding figures in any other Western country in the world, a report compiled by a Caesarea Forum team revealed Sunday. Dr. Momi Dahan of The Israel Democracy Institute headed the team that conducted the study.
According to the report, the increase in poverty rates in Israel in the last three years was accompanied by a rise in the depth of poverty
as well. In 2004, the income of poor families in Israel was 33 percent lower than the average income in the country, in comparison to a 25 percent margin in the years 1998-2000.
Israel tops the list of Western countries in terms of the number of poor families, followed by the United States (17 percent), Spain (14.3 percent), Italy (12.7 percent), England (12.4 percent), Germany (8.3 percent), Belgium (8 percent), Austria (7.7 percent ), Holland (7.3 percent), Sweden (6.5 percent), Luxemburg (6 percent), and Finland (5.4 percent).
According to the study, the Finance Ministry's policy mainly affected the weak populations, and while the income of a rich family in Israel increased by an average of NIS 1,264 (roughly USD 280) each month, the income of a poor family decreased by NIS 643 (roughly USD 142) each month.
In the three years that have passed since former Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first cutback plan, the number of poor people in Israel rose by an astounding 300,000.