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20 Mar, 2014

Report: Israel’s Poverty Rate Highest Among OECD Nations

JERUSALEM, Mar 19 (NNN-XINHUA) – Israel has the highest poverty rate among developed countries, with one out of five Israelis living in poverty, said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its latest report.

The ‘Society at a Glance 2014’ report says, Israel’s poverty rate is nearly twice the OECD average of 11.3 percent, and some 9.3 percent of Israelis said, they cannot afford to buy enough food.

The OECD said, some of the reasons for the soaring poverty rate is low social spending, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel spends only 15.8 percent of its gross domestic product on welfare, health, education and other social goals — significantly less than the OECD average of 21.9 percent.

The country is also among those with the highest income inequality, and surpassed only by Chile, Mexico, the United States and Turkey.

The report warns that income inequality and social divisions could worsen and become entrenched “unless governments act quickly to boost support for the most vulnerable in society.”

Last month, Israel’s central bank head said, unemployment and poverty among Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, elderly and Arab women are responsible for the low growth rates in the country, and urged the government to increase investment in these communities.

“The economic recovery alone will not be enough to heal social divisions and help the hardest hit bounce back,” OECD secretary-general, Angel Gurria, said, in a statement.

“Governments need to put in place more effective social policies, to help their citizens deal with future crises. They need to avoid complacency and persevere in their reform efforts, as recovery takes hold,” Gurria said.

The report reviews the OECD’s 34 member countries, of which many have experienced economic crisis in recent years.– NNN-XINHUA