Essay: Haredi population and Child Birth Issues

Sample Essay

The 2.5-children per woman increase in fertility rate amongst the Haredi population, running in reverse to Becker’s fertility transition argument, was engineered by efficient prohibition6, the ultra-orthodox value system, reduction in economic participation and increase in state subsidies, which in turn further reduced the value of any economic activities for the community.

The last point is even borne out by Shtrasler stating that replacing the principle of tax credits with child allowances by the Ben-Shahar committee in 1975 meant that parents were to be paid a certain amount in the form of child allowance, irrespective of their employment status, and hence no longer had to work to avail the benefit of having a large family.  He points out that because of their voting strength, this gap in policy was further exploited by the ultra-orthodox community who kept pushing for bigger allowances from fifth child onwards.  This meant that by 01/2001, the government had increased the allowance to NIS 855/month from fifth child onwards, while discouraging those with a smaller family with a child allowance of only NIS 171/month.

Furthermore, Berman has effectively documented the demographic, and hence political, consequence of this policy by illustrating how the ultra-orthodox population share is projected to rise from 5.2% in 1995 to 12.4% in 2025, meaning that 22.5% of the Israeli children at that time will belong to ultra-orthodox Jewish families, signifying a dramatic shift in labor force ratios on one end of the spectrum and political power on the other end.

6 Cohen Bezalel, “Economic Hardship and Gainful Employment in Haredi Society in Israel”, THE FLOERSHEIMER INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES, 2006.

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