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Israeli Arabs: Statistics Regarding Israeli Arabs

In November 2002, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) produced an article on Arab population growth and density in Israel. The study was conducted in 2001, and compares the Arab population in Israel between 1948 and 2001. The authors also predict the amount of growth in the population by the year 2020.

According to the study, 156,000 Arabs lived in Israel in 1948. They comprised approximately 19% of the population. In 2001, 1.2 million Arabic people populated the area. Because of increased Jewish immigration to Israel, the proportion of Arab residents remained at 19% in 2001. The researchers predict that by 2020, the Arab population in Israel will have increased to 2 million people and will comprise somewhere between 21% to 24% of Israel's population. On average, the proportion of Arabs increases 3.4% each year.

In 2001, 82% of the population was Muslim, 9% were Christians, and 9% were Druze. According to the CBS, the proportion of Muslims will increase to 85% by 2020.

As a result of both an increase in the birthrate and an increase in immigration from neighboring countries, the Arab community in Israel is very young. More than 50% of the Arab population is under nineteen years old. The Muslims and Druze are especially young in comparison to the Christian Arabs in the country.

In total, 71% of the Arab population lives in 116 different localities throughout Israel. In these localities, Arabs are a heavy majority. Twenty-four percent of Arabs live in cities that have a Jewish majority. These cities are Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Lod, Ma'a lot-Tarshiha, Nazerat Illit, Akko, and Ramla. Of the remaining 5%, approximately 4% live in Bedouin communities in the Negev, and 1% live in areas that are almost completely Jewish.

Nazareth has the largest Arab population but Jerusalem, a "mixed" city, housed 209,000 Arabs in 2000. Only nine of the 116 Arab localities are cities. The other localities are ruled by an Arab local authority or else they are strictly rural areas.

One consequence of the exponential increase in the Arab population is an increase in the amount of single women. Many of the women have found that there is a shortage in potential husbands. Muslims and Druze, in particular, are faced with this problem.

While the growth rate continues to increase each year, the birth rate has decreased. Before 1970, Muslim women gave birth to approximately nine children each. By 1999, the birth rate had decreased to 4.7 children per woman. As a result, the size of Arab families has also decreased. Muslim families, for example, had approximately 5.7 persons per family in 2001.

Improvements in medicine have largely contributed to the increase in the Arab population, as life expectancy has increased 27 years since 1948. Arabs in Israel tend to live 10 years longer than Arabs in neighboring countries.

The most common health-related causes of death are heart disease and cancer. This could be a result of the large number of Arabs who smoke. Approximately one half of all Arab men smoke cigarettes. Diabetes is also common among the Arab population with 14% diagnosed with the disease in 2000.

Healthcare improvements have also led to a lower infant mortality rate. In 1970, the infant mortality rate for Arabs was 32 deaths for every thousand births. In 2000, the rate had significantly decreased to 8.6 per every thousand. Out of the Arab population, Muslims have the highest rate of infant mortality with 9.1 per every thousand. Improved living standard, an improvement in environmental conditions and an increase in years of schooling also contributed to the decrease in infant mortality.

Improvement in education has also had significant benefits for the Arab community in Israel. The average number of years of education has doubled from five years in 1970 to ten years in 2000. Arab women, in particular, have improved their education. By the year 2000, 59% of Arab women had obtained at least eight years of education. Women also made up 51% of the Arab school system in Israel.

Christian Arabs continue to receive more education than Muslims or Druze. While 27% of Christian Arabs had gone through twelve years of schooling, only 14% of Muslims and Druze completed that same number. The rate of graduation from high school for Arabs was comparable to that of Jews in Israel. In 1999, 46% of Arab students in 12th grade graduated from high school. In that same year, 52% of Jewish students graduated.

Twenty-six percent of those Arab students who graduated went on to receive some kind of secondary education. Arabs comprised approximately 7% of all students at Israeli universities.

As of 2001, only 40% of Arab persons fifteen and older were part of the work force in Israel. Jews, on the other hand, were shown to have 60% of their population participating in the labor force. One reason for the lower rate of Arab workers is the extremely low proportion of Arab women in the work force. Only 15% of Arab women participate in the labor force, while Jewish women contribute 53% of their population. In both Jewish and Arab populations, younger women are more likely to work. Seventy-nine percent of Jewish women aged 25-34 are part of the work force, while the Arab percentage is only 22%.

Many Arab men work in construction and agriculture. Only seven percent of Jewish men work in construction. Arabs and Jews have somewhat different unemployment rates. In 2000, 12% of Arab men were unemployed while 7.6% of Jewish men were out of work.

The Arab population in Israel tends to earn less money than the Jewish population. Arabs earn approximately 60% of the yearly wage of Jews. The cost of living, however, is lower among the Arab population. The cost of housing for Arabs is, on average, 490,000 shekels ($ 122,500). For Jews, the cost of a house is 805,000 shekels ($201,250).

In general, the standard of living for Arabs in Israel is significantly better than that of Arabs in other countries. For example, the rate of female literacy in Israel is 88% among Arabs, while in Egypt, only 43% of females are literate. Also, life expectancy in Israel is 74.6 years for men, while in Libya, the average lifespan is only 68.6 years. In 1999, the infant mortality rate for the Arab population in Israel was 9 deaths per every thousand births. Egypt's infant mortality rate in the same year was 41 deaths per every thousand.

Sources: Central Bureau of Statistics Center for Statistical Information, (November 2002)