Israeli parents forced to support adult kids

New study by Taub Center for Social Policy finds that 87% of all Israeli parents help their grownup children with finances, taking on debt to help buy apartments and even groceries

Adina Kleiman and her husband Moshe (not his real name) have five daughters between the ages of 15 and 30. The three oldest are married, the next is getting married in the fall, and the youngest is a teenager.


Kleiman is financially helping all of them.


“My two older girls are very dependent on me right now,” she tells The Media Line. “One of them lost money in a business, so I took a loan that I’m still paying back. I help pay for the grandchildren’s nursery schools, clothes, after-school activities. Without my help my children won’t be able to make it.”


A new study by the Taub Center for Social Policy finds that 87% of all Israeli parents help their adult children with finances. To mothers and fathers here, this comes as no surprise. Of all of the 34 countries in the OECD – the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – apartments are the most expensive in Israel, relative to salary.


Dan Ben David, director of the Taub Center, says that in the United States, it takes 2.9 years of salary to buy the average apartment. In Israel, it takes 7.7.


“That’s if you don’t eat and don’t pay any taxes,” he told The Media Line. “In Israel, we have higher taxes and lower salaries.”


Israeli banks also demand an estimated 30-40% down payment on an apartment before they will agree to a mortgage, and rental apartments are in short supply. Ben David, who also teaches economics at Tel Aviv University, says home ownership among young Israelis from age 25-34 has declined over the past few years.


“Until very recently, I had three of my own kids living at home,” he explained. “Also, compared to the US, young people in Israel are studying later, getting married later, and buying homes later.”


The main reason for late entrance to college is compulsory military service. But university tuition is just a fraction in Israel of what it is in the States, so parents are going into debt to help their children buy apartments.


Rental apartments are in short supply in Israel, so many young couples must either buy their own unit or live with their parents. Prices have risen dramatically over the past 20 years and many young couples simply cannot afford to buy.


'We didn’t ask our parents for daily support'

Some of these parents say they expected to help their children, but not quite this much.


“We expected to give them a nice push when got married but we didn’t expect they would need continuous help,” said Beatrice Brom, a high school guidance counselor who has four adult children and nine grandchildren.


Brom, who is still working almost full-time, says she spends most of her free time traveling around Israel to babysit her grandchildren.


“That’s also a kind of financial help because if they didn’t have me they’d have to hire a babysitter,” she said. “I love having that close connection with the grandchildren, but I’m still working and it’s very tiring.”


Brom and her husband immigrated to Israel from Holland in 1988. When they were starting out, she says, they didn’t expect this kind of financial help from their parents.


“We’re happy to help,” she says. “But we sometimes think back and say we didn’t ask for daily support from our parents. We wanted to support ourselves. This generation finds it easy to ask for all kinds of help.”


Penina Beck, a high school teacher, says she grew up as one of five children in a small apartment in Jaffa, then a run-down suburb of Tel Aviv. Her father ran a grocery store with his brother and money was tight. Her parents never went out to the movies and the family never took vacations. Yet, when she got married, she says, her father sold a piece of land he had held onto for decades, which helped them buy their first apartment.


“I don’t even know how much money I give my children,” she said. “Whenever they need it, I try to help them. Whenever she runs low, one of my daughters calls me and I can hear it in her voice. I think they don’t like to ask, but they have no choice.”


It is not only in Israel, of course, that parents help their adult children. A new study by Forbes Woman and the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 59% of parents are providing financial help for their children who have graduated college. Unemployment among 20 to 24-year-olds is up to 14.2%, and many carry tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.


In Israel, however, many of the parents are barely making ends meet themselves. Food prices here have continued to rise and gas is four times as expensive as in the US. Parents who help their children often have to deny themselves.


“I do feel angry sometimes,” Adina Kleiman said. “All this money could be a vacation for me. I want to go to Spain. I want to go to Italy, to China. But they’re my kids and I have to help them. Being a parent is giving up things for yourself and trying to make your children happy. It’s what all parents do.”


Article written by Linda Gradstein


Reprinted with permission from The Media Line



פרסום ראשון: 09.22.13, 15:13
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