Exclusive IDI Poll on Israeli Economy: Quarter of the Population Gives Government's Policies a Failing Grade
Two and a half weeks ahead of the elections, a special survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute reveals that the Israeli public is concerned about various economic and social issues, and supports increasing the budgets allocated to health, education, welfare, and public transportation services. A far lower percentage of Israelis support an increase in the defense budget. About 25% of Israelis are unfamiliar with the issue of the government’s current budget deficit; of those who are familiar a third support budget cuts across the board in all government offices, in order to reduce the deficit.
Prof. Karnit Flug, Israel Democracy Institute Vice President for Research notes that, “The public has clear priorities on economic and social issues. For example, the vast majority (93%) supports an increase in the health budget. The public is skeptical about the likelihood of economic and social issues being the deciding factors in the upcoming elections. One of the root causes of this skepticism is the widespread opinion, revealed in the survey data, that campaign promises on these issues are meaningless.
The public has taken a fiscally responsible position on this matter: Only a small minority (11%) believes that welfare services should be expanded by increasing the government deficit. In this context, it is important to note that the public’s reluctance to pay higher taxes is based on its lack of faith in the government economic policy, and its skepticism that funds from such a tax increase would indeed be designated to upgrading social services.”
Daphna Aviram-Nitzan, Director of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Governance and the Economy: “The survey reveals the public’s low level of satisfaction with the government’s functioning in regard to social and economic issues, rooted primarily in the low priority it gives to these issues and the leadership’s indifference towards them. In essence, the public is expressing its distrust in the government’s economic policy; most do not believe that an increase in taxes would be directed towards enhancing services, and that's why they—are unwilling to pay more taxes. Israelis hold this position despite the fact that most believe that there is a need to expand health, education, social welfare, and transportation services.”
Government Economic Policies
45% of Israelis rated the government’s economic policy as “not good;” 26%--gave a failing grade. This is compared with 25% who rated the government’s policy as “very good” or “excellent.” Arab Israeli respondents gave lower ratings (63%) as did the secular (54%) and lower-income respondents (50%).
Security above all? Rethinking government budget allocations
Only about 38% of the Israeli public believes that the defense budget should be increased, as compared with 28% who believe that in fact, it should be reduced. This is in sharp contrast with the fact that a decisive majority (93%) believes that a higher proportion of the government’s budget should be allocated to health services, and to education (82%). It is interesting to note that an even higher percentage of Arab Israelis---90% -- believe that the education budget should be increased. Significant percentages of the Israeli public also support budget increases for social welfare (72%) and transportation (71%) services.
Expansion of Services in exchange for a Tax Increase
Most Israelis (86%) believe that services (such as education, health, social security, and transportation) should be expanded, but only 37% would be willing to pay more taxes to cover the costs of such an expansion. Over half (54%) of the 18-24 age group would be willing to pay more taxes, as compared with about a quarter (26%) of adults ages 55-64.
Higher income is associated with the willingness to pay higher taxes in exchange for more services: 30% among those with under-average income would accept a tax increase; 37% among those with average income; and 50% among those with above-average income.
75% among those unwilling to pay higher taxes indicated that their response is rooted in their disbelief that the additional revenues from taxes would indeed be allocated to an expansion of services
85% of the Israeli public supports an increase in the National Insurance Institute’s stipends for senior citizens, and half (51%) are even willing to pay more taxes to the National Insurance Institute, in order to fund such an increase, with willingness to do so--gradually increasing with age. 44% among younger people (ages 25-34) as compared with 61% among those ages 65 and over.
Satisfaction with one’s financial situation
About 35% of Israelis are not satisfied with their financial situation, as compared with 29% who expressed their satisfaction. Dissatisfaction is particularly prevalent among Israeli Arabs (60%); and those with low income (47%). Analysis of the data by age reveals that satisfaction with one’s financial situation declines with age: From 34% among those ages 18-24, to a low of 21% among those ages 35-44. This trend is reversed at age 45; satisfaction is greater among adults ages 45-54 (27%), and 55-64(36%), with satisfaction reaching a peak of 46% among adults ages 65 and over.
The survey was conducted in July 2019 by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Smith Institute, among the general population of Israel. The survey is based on a representative sample of the population by gender, age, region of residence, nationality, education, and level of religious observance (among Jews). Sample size in the survey: N = 503 (unless otherwise indicated on the graph).