A few months ago I wrote about Israeli society in 2030, and how the fact that almost a third of primary school entrants go to the ultra-orthodox education system will affect Israel in 20 years’ time. Yesterday, the Taub Institute published a comprehensive study about Israeli society in 2040, predicting that in 30 years’ time, more than three quarters of all primary school students will be either in the Arab system or in the ultra-orthodox one. Given current unemployment figures in these two groups, the unsustainability of this reality is clear to all. There will be no working hands in Israel and the standard of living will plummet.
Here are some interesting charts that Calcalist drew up from the study’s findings:
- Today, half of primary school pupils are Arab or ultra-orthodox; the figure will reach 78% in 2040.
- Unemployment in the ultra-orthodox sector has grown from 20% in 1979 to almost 70% today.
- More education = less unemployment and more income
This was the concluding paragraph in my previous post:
In my opinion, this is by far the single biggest challenge facing Israel’s future. This will no longer be the Israel we know, governed by a secular elite with (more or less) Western values and standards. Certain aspects of life in Israel will change dramatically, with consequences that cannot be predicted with any reliable degree of accuracy.
In recent days, the media debate around this issue has intensified, both as a result of this study and following some particularly nasty sound bites from politicians and other interested parties. None of this debate is constructive as it focuses on “solutions” like coercive measures against the ultra-orthodox school system. A long-term approach is needed, one that takes into consideration the complexity of Israeli society, made up of contrasting and discordant social groups bound together by a thin strand of national identity. Sadly, as in so many other areas of public interest, such a long-term approach is not forthcoming.