Mixed cities in Israel - a gender perspective on trends in the Arab population labor market and higher education integration

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Noga Greenberg, Bed, 2021 Color photography, 60 X50 cm

* This article is based on the chapter 'Mixed Cities' in the publication A plan to promote the integration of the Arab society in the labor market by Nasreen Haddad Haj-Yahya, Aiman Saif, Nitsa (Kaliner) Kasir and Ben Fargeon, which was published in collaboration with the Israel Democracy Institute and the Portland Foundation.

Introduction

The Arab population in Israel's mixed cities has a number of characteristics that set it apart from the rest of the Arab society in Israel. The proximity to the Jewish population has created a historical dynamic that is different from the rest of the Arab population in Israel, which lives in Arab localities. One may say that mixed cities are a microcosm of the relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel: They are characterized by socio-economic gaps, there is spatial segregation and the relations between the groups are conflictual. Alongside these, mixed cities also offer a unique space where the rigid boundaries of space and nationality are disrupted, and Jewish and Arab spaces mingle with each other (Monterescu, 2011). The place of Arab women in mixed cities and their integration into public spheres, such as the labor market and institutions of higher education, is also different from the patterns of integration of Arab women in non-mixed localities. The patriarchal supervision, which is present in Arab localities, is weaker in mixed cities. Therefore, it is not surprising that women's participation in the labor market and their integration in higher education outweigh their counterparts in Arab localities. In addition, mixed cities offer women a greater opportunity to participate in civic activities, in protest movements and political organizations. Thus, for example, in protests against violence and crime in the Arab society in Lod, the participation of women stands out (Samah Salaime, 2021).

Although mixed cities provide greater opportunities for Arab women, the unique character of these cities is largely to the detriment of the Arab population living in them. The liminal situation in which the Arab residents of the mixed cities find themselves often leads to disregard by both the state and the representative institutions of the Arab population in Israel. For example, in the last decade, several five-year plans have been set for the Arab society to advance its economic situation, but none has allocated resources to the Arab population of mixed localities. Their representation on the Supreme Monitoring Committee of the Arab Society and on the Committee of Heads of Arab Authorities [Municipal Localities] also began only in the early 2000s. In municipal politics, the Arab parties are usually not perceived as an integral part of the municipal coalition and cooperation with these parties is many times limited to specific interests. All this greatly reduces the agency capacity of the Arab population in mixed cities, and this fact is also reflected in relative difficulties in their integration into higher education and the labor market.

In this article, we will review the integration trends of the Arab population in mixed cities in the labor market and higher education in recent years. The comparison will focus on three main axes: women and men, Jews and Arabs and residents of the mixed cities and non-mixed cities. The findings show that on the one hand the socioeconomic level of the Arab population in mixed cities is higher compared to the Arabs living in Arab localities, and on the other hand the gaps in relation to the Jewish population in mixed cities are still strong and not sufficiently reduced. It also appears that in some of the indices there is a slower progression of the Arab population in mixed cities compared to the general Arab population, as stated, due to being a population that is in a liminal state and does not receive treatment in national or local politics.

 

Findings

The employment rates of the Arab population in mixed cities are considerably higher compared to the Arab population in Israel who lives in Arab localities, especially among women. The Arab population in mixed cities enjoys better access to the labor market in several respects. First, geographically the population of the mixed cities is closer to employment centers and to accessible public transportation compared to other Arab localities, most of which are in the geographical periphery of Israel. Second, the physical proximity to the Jewish population provides greater opportunity for the Arab population to learn the Hebrew language, which is the dominant language in the Israeli labor market. Third, at least in some of the mixed cities, the Arab education system is better than the Arab education system in Arab localities and thus provides a greater opportunity for its students to be eligible for quality matriculation leading to higher education and finally also to easier labor market integration. Moreover, Arab society in mixed cities is less conservative and the patriarchal supervision much less rigid, which explains the relatively high proportion of Arab women integrated into the labor market.

As of 2019, the employment rate of Arab women from mixed cities was 54.8%, significantly higher than the employment rate of Arab women from non-mixed cities (26.5%) but lower than the national employment rate of women in Israel - 57.2%. Among Arab men the gap is smaller but still significant - the employment rate of Arab men from mixed cities is 66.1% compared to 57.8% among Arab men from non-mixed cities. Despite the high employment rates of Arab women from mixed cities, among Arab women from non-mixed cities there was a greater increase in 2012-2019 and thus the gaps between the two groups narrowed. In contrast, among Arab men, who are not from mixed cities, there was a 2% decrease in employment rates in 2012-2019 and thus the gap between them and men from mixed cities, whose employment rate actually increased, only widened in these years.

It is possible that the reason for the lower increase of employment rates of Arab women from mixed cities lies in the fact that the programs for integration of the Arab population in general, and the Arab women population in particular, focused less on the mixed cities and a gap was created in this matter between the mixed cities and the areas in which funds were invested and programs were implemented. A prominent example for this is the exclusion of Arabs from mixed cities in Program 922, the Israeli government's flagship program for economic development of the Arab society that operated during the years 2016-2020 with a budget of about NIS 10 billion. As part of the program, many resources have been invested to integrate the population of Arab localities, especially the female population, into the labor market and employment-supporting infrastructures (such as transportation and nursery schools for infants and toddlers). Although the Arab population in the mixed cities is about 10% of the total Arab population, it has been completely excluded from the program.

It is worth noting that the gap in the employment rate between the Arab and Jewish populations in mixed cities also narrowed in 2012-2019. If in 2012 the gap in employment rates between Arab women and Jewish women from mixed cities was 27%, by 2019 it was reduced to 13%. Among men, the gap narrowed from 9% to 7% during those years.

 

Chart 1: Employment rates among people aged 15+ by gender and population group, 2012-2019 (%)

                 Non-mixed cities                                               Mixed Cities

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Source: The authors' processing to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics

 

Difference between different mixed cities: The relatively high employment rates of Arab women and men in the mixed cities obscures the marked differences that exist between different mixed cities. In some of the mixed cities, employment rates are particularly high, and the Arab population is sometimes even better off than the Jewish population. But in some of the mixed cities the situation is very poor and the population in these cities participates in the labor market at low rates similar to the rest of the Arab society, despite high accessibility to the labor market.

Prominently for the worse among Arab women is Lod, where only 41% of Arab women are employed. Moreover, in 2015, the employment rate of Arab women in Lod was 39% and thus, in contrast to the relatively high increase of employment rates of Arab women who are not from mixed cities, the employment rate of Arab women in the city by 2019 increased only slightly. On the other hand, the employment rates of Arab women in Jaffa (66.4%) are particularly high (even higher than the Arab men in Jaffa), and in Haifa they are also relatively high (however, in Haifa there was a decrease in the employment rates of Arab women in 2015-2019, from 56% to 54.8%).

Among Arab men, employment rates in Ramla (52.5%) and Lod (62.1%) stand out for the worse. In these two cities, there was a sharp decline in the employment rate of Arab men between 2015 and 2019. In Lod, the employment rate of Arab men fell from 71.4% to 62.1% and in Ramla from 57.2% to 52.5%. Similar to Jaffa, as of 2019 the employment rate of women is higher than that of men. In both Jaffa and Acre, the employment rates of Arab men decreased during these years, and only in Haifa was there an increase.

 

Chart 2: Employment rates among Arab women and men aged 15+ in mixed cities according to cities, 2019 (%)

      

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                     [Arab Men]                                        [ Arab women]

Source: The authors' processing to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics

 

Figure 3 indicates an increase in the rate of Arab women with an academic degree in the mixed cities, from 16.3% in 2012 to 22.1% in 2017 (an increase of 36%). This increase is greater than the increase among the other populations in the mixed cities (Arab men, Jewish women, and Jewish men), which stands at about 10% in each of them. Between 2012 and 2017, the gap between Arab academic women and Jewish academic women and men in mixed cities narrowed (from a gap of 19.7 to 16.5 percentage points compared to Jewish academic women, and from a gap of 15.4 to 12 percentage points compared to Jewish academic men). Due to the moderate increase rate in the academic Arab men, there is still a large gap between them and the Jewish population. The fact that less than one-fifth of Arab men in mixed cities have an academic degree impairs their ability to advance in wages and rank in the labor market. As we will see below, the level of education has a strong impact on the ability to integrate into the labor market and the level of the individual's salary. These, of course, also have a direct impact on a family's risk of living in poverty. According to data from the National Insurance Institute for 2018, the poverty rate of families headed by those with low education (up to 8 years of schooling) is 46% compared to 20% among families headed by high school graduates (9 to 12 years of schooling) and only 13% among families headed by a person with higher education (13 years of schooling or more) (National Insurance Institute, 2019).

 

Chart 3: Percentage of academics aged 18+ in the mixed cities in 2012 and 2017 by population group and gender (%)

 

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Source: The authors' processing to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics

 

 

 

Figure 4 presents the main industries in which the Arab and Jewish populations work. The chart shows that almost a quarter of the Arab women living in mixed cities (22.8%) worked in the education industry in 2017, a much higher rate than the rest of the population groups in mixed cities but lower than the national rate among Arab women (30.3%). Another major industry in which these women worked was health services (18.9%). This industry also has a greater representation of women in general, and Arab women in particular, compared to men (17.9% of Jewish women, 9.7% of Arab men and 4.6% of Jewish men). The trade and repair industry is the third largest industry in which Arab women worked (16%). Between 2012 and 2017, there was almost no change in the distribution of Arab women employees in each of the three industries. Among Arab men in mixed cities, about one-fifth were employed in the trade and repair industry, more than twice compared to Jewish men. In addition, both among Arab men and among Arab women from mixed cities there is a relatively high proportion of employed in professional, scientific and technical services (7.2% and 6.6%, respectively) compared to the national average (3.2% among Arab women and 3.6% among Arab men). The data show that among Arab men from mixed cities there is a relatively balanced distribution between different industries. This contrasts with the concentration of Arab men not from mixed cities in construction and manufacturing industries, where there has been a significant decline in the employment rate in recent years. This balanced distribution may have protected Arab men from mixed cities from a decline in the employment rate during the five years 2012-2017.

This article was first published on Heinrich Böll Stiftung Tel Aviv: https://il.boell.org/en/2021/12/14/mixed-cities-israel-gender-perspecti…