Press Release

Little Support for Equal Division of Domestic Tasks Among Ultra-Orthodox Men

2020 report finds that Ultra-Orthodox men do not support an egalitarian division of domestic tasks. Only one-third of ultra-Orthodox Israelis believe that paid employment is the best way for women to achieve independence.

Flash 90

The 2020 Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel (the fifth annual Statistical Report), published today (Thursday), reviews recent changes and trends in ultra-Orthodox society in various domains, including standard of living, education, employment, social mobility, leisure, and lifestyles.

Dr. Gilad Malach and Dr. Lee Cahaner, the Statistical Report editors:
“Ultra-Orthodox society consistently expresses the most conservative views in Jewish-Israeli society regarding family values and gender equality, and ultra-Orthodox households are run in a very traditional way. Not much has changed over time: Findings are similar to those in a survey conducted a decade ago: the general Jewish public is more open to a variety of family models, while the ultra-Orthodox continue to cling to the traditional family model. Similarly, the fact that more and more ultra-Orthodox women are entering the workforce has not had a dramatic effect on their domestic commitments, and they bear most of the responsibility for traditional female roles to a much higher degree than other Jewish women in Israel.”

Main Findings

Raising Children—Conservatism Versus Openness to Change

The 2019 data reveal that almost all (97%) of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel agree that anyone who wants to have children must first -marry, a finding similar to that from a decade ago (99% in 2009). Among other Jews, only 42% agreed with this position, a significant decline from the 62% who supported it in 2009.

In addition, only 11% of ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that a single parent can raise children as well as two parents, an identical percentage to that found in 2009. By contrast, just over one-half (52%) of other Jews agree with this statement, up from just 35% in 2009.

Independence and Equality

Only a third (33%) of ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that paid employment is the best way for women to attain independence, as compared with more than double (67%) in the general Jewish population. 

It is therefore not surprising that only just over one-half (52%) of ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that both spouses should contribute to household income, compared with broad consensus on this issue among other Jews (87%).

Sharing Domestic Tasks 

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis also express conservative views regarding the roles of family members and the sharing of domestic tasks. Only 46% believe that in families in which both spouses are employed, they should share the burden of household chores equally, compared with 81% of other Jews. Analyzing the findings by gender reveals that 61% of ultra-Orthodox men, as compared with only 30% of ultra-Orthodox women agree with this statement, (among other Jews, an equal percentage of women and men agree). And in practice, ultra-Orthodox women indeed bear most of the responsibility for the majority of household chores, such as laundry (71%), cooking (67%), and cleaning (45%). Women in the general Jewish population are also usually charged with these tasks, but to a lesser degree, with lower percentages responsible for laundry (57%), cooking (47%), and cleaning (38%). A similar proportion of both ultra-Orthodox and other Jewish men were found to be responsible for household repairs (68% and 67%, respectively).

When it comes to managing household finances, in the majority of ultra-Orthodox families (52%) this is the man’s responsibility rather than the woman’s (13%), while among the general Jewish population, the division on this between men and women is more egalitarian (37% and 26%, respectively; the remainder reported that this responsibility is shared by both spouses).

Views on family issues, by population group, 2019 (%, agree or strongly agree with the statements)

Work-Home Balance

Some 66% of ultra-Orthodox respondents report finding it difficult to manage family life alongside their work commitments, compared with 55% of other Jewish respondents. Moreover, 55% among the ultra-Orthodox believe that family distractions interfere with their functioning at work, compared with 44% of other Jews. On the other hand, a higher proportion among the ultra-Orthodox feel that they are able to find time to people with whom they have a close relationship, and 73% feel they can find time for their spouses and children, as compared with 65% of other Jewish respondents.

City Life or Country Living?

Around one-half (51%) of the ultra-Orthodox prefer to live in large urban centers, compared with 32% of other Jews. The latter prefer living in rural communities (40%, versus just 21% of ultra-Orthodox Jews). 27% of both groups would prefer living in small urban locales. While the dream home for other Jews is a single-family home (46%), followed by an apartment (20%), this order of preference is reversed among the ultra-Orthodox: 31% would rather live in an apartment, and only 26% in a single-family home. 

Is Love the Name of the Game?

A relatively similar picture emerges among both the ultra-Orthodox and the general Jewish public regarding the factors considered important for the success of couples’ relationships. Nevertheless, differences were found between the two.

Only 31% of ultra-Orthodox respondents believe that love is an important factor in the success of relationships, compared with 44% of other Jewish respondents. In addition, 6% of ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that financial security affects the success of relationships, compared with 16% of other Jews. Sex is also rated as of low importance among the ultra-Orthodox (6%), with other Jews rating the importance of sex as twice as high (12%).

Most important factors for success in couples’ relationships, by population group, 2019 (%)

And what about divorce? Only a minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews (21%) believe that divorce is an acceptable solution for marital problems, compared with more than half of other Jewish respondents (54%).

Ultra-Orthodox and Disabilities

The prevailing perception of disabled persons among the ultra-Orthodox is stigmatic. Among the general Jewish population, we found a more open attitude and a greater willingness to live nearby the physically disabled (66% as compared with 54% of the ultra-Orthodox); those with autism (54% vs. 27%); with an intellectual disability (49% vs. 27%) and the mentally handicapped (36% vs. 16%). The desire to preserve the community's character and its status in the hierarchy of ultra-Orthodox locales, finds its expression in the desire to keep anyone who may do harm to this status, at a distance.

Findings presented in the Statistical Report are based on data produced by the Central Bureau of Statistics, government ministries and agencies, and the National Insurance Institute.