The number of Israelis living under the poverty line has steadily increased over the past few years, as have the income gaps in the country, this according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Thursday.
Surprisingly, the data indicated that despite being poorer, Israelis are more optimistic than the Europeans.
According to the CBS, in 2006 about 30% of Israelis lived under the European poverty line, compared to only 26% in 2001.
The data also showed that in 2006, 21% of Israel's Jewish population lived under the European poverty line, while 68% of the country's Arab sector was defined as poor by European standards.
The number of Israeli citizens living below the European poverty line exceeded that of all European Union countries, the report said. Moreover, in 2004 some 40% of Israeli children lived in poverty, as opposed to only 19% in the European Union.
The highest number of elderly citizens living in poverty was recorded in Ireland (33%), followed by Israel with 31%.
The CBS report showed that in 2006 the average net salary among Israel's top 5th percentile was 7.4 times higher than among the country's bottom 5th percentile. In general, the salary gap both in Israel and Europe has increased from 2001 to 2005, the report indicated.
Despite the statistics, the data showed that 51% of Israelis expect their lives to improve in the coming years, while only 35% of the population within the European Union expressed similar optimism.
More specifically, the report said 40% of Israelis believe they will be better off financially in the future, compared with only 25% of Europeans.
As far as personal security is concerned, the findings showed that 73% of Israelis feel safe walking the streets alone after dark, compared with 59% in Greece, 69% in Italy and 70% in the European Union in general.