Poverty rates among the ultra-Orthodox are much higher than among other Jewish Israelis. In 2017, almost half of all ultra-Orthodox families (43%) were living below the poverty line, compared with 11% of other Jewish families. However, while this figure is undoubtedly high, it marks s an improvement after more than a decade, during which the percentage of ultra-Orthodox families living below the poverty line ranged from 50% and 58%. Since 2015, there has been a consistent and significant decline in the prevalence of poverty among the ultra-Orthodox, which can be attributed to several factors, including an increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox families with at least one breadwinner; a rise in incomes among ultra-Orthodox adults who are employed; a rise in employment grants (negative income tax), in National Insurance Institute child allowances, and in state support for kollel students.
Prevalence of Poverty Among Families, by Population Group (2003-2017)
Income and Expenditures
Standard of living is closely linked to household income and expenditures. In 2017, the average gross monthly income for an ultra-Orthodox family was NIS 15,015, far lower than that of other Jewish families (NIS 22,190). However, in a single year—2017– there was a rise of NIS 1,050 per month in the average monthly income from employment among ultra-Orthodox households, much of which can be attributed to a rise in the average salary of ultra-Orthodox women. Consequently, there was a rise of 40% in taxes and in payments to the National Insurance Institute among ultra-Orthodox families between 2015 and 2017, though this expenditure still stands at just 43% of the same expenditure among other Jewish families.
Surprisingly, despite their relatively low level of income, 68% of ultra-Orthodox Israelis report being satisfied or very satisfied with their financial situation.
In terms of expenditures, the average per capita monthly expenditure among the ultra-Orthodox is less than half of that among the rest of the Jewish population (NIS 2,135 per month versus NIS 4,590), even though the average household size is larger among the ultra-Orthodox. In 2017, for example, ultra-Orthodox households expended NIS 14,311 per month on the average– 18% less than the average for other Jewish households.
Car and Home Ownership
The gaps between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israel’s Jewish population are also evident in car ownership: In 2018, 44% of ultra-Orthodox Jews owned a car, compared with 81% of other Jews. The two groups are more similar when it comes to home ownership, with rates of 72% among the ultra-Orthodox and 74% among other Jews. However, the rate of ultra-Orthodox home ownership dropped from 79% to 72% between 2006 and 2018, while the rate among other Jews stayed steady over this period.
Figure 6: Home Ownership among those Ages 20 and Above, by Population Group, 2006–2018 (%)
** The Statistical Report on Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel is based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, government ministries and authorities, and the National Insurance Institute.