The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which monitors key indices of social development among major western nations, published the Better Life index. It is a new survey which asks respondents to indicate their own subjective view of their economic, social, and personal well-being.
Though the poll made a point of not offering overall rankings of individual countries in comparison to their peers, Haaretz’s report noted that Israel fell quite low on most of the major questions polled (though it polled relatively high on two indicators–see below). The newspaper report indicated that Israel overall polled 25th out of 36 nations included in the rankings. It’s overall point score was 5.4 out of 10. It ranked particularly low on issues like:
Housing (28th place)
Income (16–22nd for disposable income)
Job security (23)
Community support (30)
Civic engagement (35)
Work-life balance (25)
The two areas in which Israel scored high were health (5) and life satisfaction (8). The response to the health question may reflect Israel’s national health insurance program and medical care provider, Kupat Holim, founded under Labor governments when socialism was not yet a dirty word. The “life satisfaction” survey is a mystery. It may indicate Israelis’ powerful impulse to rationalize and normalize their existence. Though this is a common human trait, it’s can be particularly damaging in a perilous situation like the one Israel faces.
Breaking down the findings into more detail:
The bad: 60% of Israelis have full-time work opposed to an average of 66% in other OECD countries. Fewer Israelis knew someone they could turn to for help in time of need than the OECD average. Israeli voter participation was lower than in other OECD member states. In Israel, only 70% say they have more positive than negative experiences in a given day, compared to 80% in participating countries. Fewer Israelis are satisfied with their housing situation than the OECD average. Israelis earn more than 10% lower wages than the average OECD member citizen.
Cancer-causing air particulates exist at much higher levels in Israel than other member states. In Israel, 59% says they are satisfied with the quality of the water they drink compared to the 85% OECD rate. Fewer Israelis than the OECD average say they trust their political leaders. Far more Israelis reported being a victim of a crime in the previous year than the overall OECD rate. Israelis work an average of 150 hours per year more than their OECD counterparts. 19% of Israelis work “very long hours,” the highest rating among all OECD states. Israel produces only 4% of its energy from renewable sources which ranks it 32nd in the OECD.
The good: Life expectancy in Israel is higher than the OECD average. The rate of obesity in Israel is lower than the overall rate for other member states. A far larger percentage of Israeli said their health was good compared to those polled in other OECD nations.
Contrary to what Israel advocates may believe, the purpose of this post and the OECD survey itself is not to run down Israel. The purpose is to break through the smugness of Israeli hasbara to make its citizens aware of the price that they pay in isolation from other western nations in so many factors, from economic to social to political. A large part of the reason for Israel’s relatively poor showing in such surveys is that it is so obsessed with security it has little or no energy left to deal with important quality of life issues. While other nations are working to raise their citizens from poverty and provide them maximum opportunities for social advancement, Israel’s attention is laser-focussed on a few narrow issues directly related to national security. The result is that Israel lags its peers in so many critical social indicators.
In response to everything Mr. Silverstein brings up, the hasbarists will say “Israel is doing better than Mexico and Turkey.”
Richard Silverstein says
@Strelnikov: The question then becomes: does Israel want to model itself after the U.S. or Turkey? If the U.S., it has a long way to go. If Turkey, it’s doing great.
Ken Houghton says
“Fewer Israelis knew someone they could turn to for help in time of need than the OECD average.”
That’s the one that is surprising. If you live in a state where you better know your neighbors, you should know them well enough to know which are trustworthy.
Apparently, not many believe their neighbors are, er, neighborly.
So other than getting good access to healthcare and being satisfied with their live, Israelis have a terrible life.
I wonder 2 things: 1 why did you choose to separates these two issues from the others on presenting the data.
Why would anyone be happy that life in Israel would be bad?
Finally, I would say that quality of life depends on your wealth. So wealth distribution is a big factor and it is missing. I am not sure Israel would do very well on this but i know the US (which concerns me more) with its 50 million people on food stamps would do even worse.