It is often stated that in Israel, the rate of participation in the work force is much lower than other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This leads to the impression that Israelis work less than their counterparts in the developed countries. However, at least for Israeli women, this description is far from true.
Israeli women are hard workers. In fact, they are record-holders in terms of participation in the labor market. Israeli women are unaware of this status because of problems in data interpretation: in statistical analyses disparate groups such as Arab women, Jewish-secular women and Jewish-Ultra-Orthodox women are frequently counted together.
In fact, these three groups display very different patterns: 20 percent of Arab women work, due to cultural reasons and limited access to the job market; and only 56 percent of ultra-Orthodox woman participate in the work force. Conversely, more secular Jewish women workk than women in any other country in the Western world.
Benny Pepperman, head of the Administration for Research and Economy at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor explains the unique situation of Israeli women. One of the factors influencing the rate of woman labor is the relatively large size of the average Israeli family (3 children, which is much higher than the world average).
According to Pepperman, one of the factors influencing woman’s labor rate is the relatively large size of the average Israeli family. Israel’s shortage in subsidized daycare facilities and the high percentage of minimum-wage earners in the economy drive many mothers back into the work force in order to maintain a decent standard of living for their families.
In addition, many Israeli women are educated, a fact that encourages their integration into the labor market.
Israeli women’s participation in the job market makes them more economically independent than in most developed countries.
However, the low rate of woman’s labor in the Arab sector must be dealt with through education, subsidizing daycare and improving public transportation. The Israeli social atmosphere which promotes woman’s employment might help increase the chances of Arab women to be incorporated in the work force.