Around half of women and 17 percent of men among employed Ethiopian immigrants who moved to Israel after the age of 12 work in cleaning and cooking, according to a new study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Research in Israel. In comparison, around 3.5 percent of non-Ethiopian Jewish men and women are employed in these jobs.
The study was based on Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) figures from 1998-2013, but researchers believe that the situation has not changed since then. The study did point to an improvement in the rate of education and employment for young Israelis of Ethiopian origin compared to the previous generation, but the road to equality is still long, the researchers found.
According to the CBS, the gross income of an Ethiopian immigrant household in 2013 was NIS 11,453 a month – about 35 percent less than the average income for the general population, which stood at NIS 17,711 per household.
According to the study's researchers, Hadas Fuchs and Gilad Brand, this gap might be explained by disparities in education, type of employment, and salaries.
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Gaps in education are narrowing, but are far from disappearing. Fuchs and Brand found that the rate of Bagrut certificates (the Israeli matriculation certificate required to complete high school) among students of Ethiopian origin who were born in Israel or immigrated at a young age stood at 53 percent, compared to 75 percent of Jews who are not of Ethiopian origin.
The study found a similar trend in the world of higher education. Among Israelis of Ethiopian origin educated in Israel, 20 percent have an academic degree – around half of the rate among the general Jewish population. Among those who came from Ethiopia after the age of 12, the rate is only six percent, and out of this group, most of those holding a degree are people who arrived in Israel before the age of 18.
A more encouraging finding is the improvement in high-school education compared to the previous generation. Thirty six percent of Israelis of Ethiopian origin who came to Israel at an older age completed high school, while the rate among those who were educated in Israel is around 90 percent – similar to the general Jewish population.
The study showed a marked increase in the employment rate among Ethiopian women, but most hold low-wage positions.
The employment rate among Ethiopian immigrants aged 25-54 rose significantly over the course of a decade, stabilizing in 2009-2011 at around 72 percent – a figure only slightly lower than the employment rate among the general Jewish population, which is about 79 percent.
The increase was evident for both genders, but was particularly striking among women: While only about 35 percent of Ethiopian women were employed in 1998-2000, compared to nearly 65 percent in 2009-2011.
The study noted that much like education, employment among those who were educated in Israel is greater than among those who immigrated at an older age. But these younger Ethiopians' employment still lags behind the general Jewish population in certain respects. About one fifth of Ethiopians educated in Israel are employed in the upper tiers of the job market, around half the proportion among the general Jewish population.
Researchers further found that a relatively high proportion of Ethiopians who moved to Israel at older ages work in cleaning and cooking, although the study noted that this finding was specific to workers who arrived at the age of 13 and older.
Among Ethiopian immigrants who were educated in Israel, the rate of employment in cleaning jobs is similar to the general Jewish population – 3.9 percent.