Blessed or Stricken ?
Israel's economy keeps growing strong and many indicators suggest that this time the economic growth is based on very solid foundations. Israels' economy is not only growing, it's structurally strong. This year Israel's rating went up by three steps to number 21 in the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) for 2007, positioning the country at the doorstep of joining the world's top 20 most competitive nations.
Israel was 33rd in the category of economic performance, 25th in government efficiency, 16th in business efficiency and 14th in infrastructure.
According to the report, Israel's GDP, for the second consecutive year, has the largest percentage per capita devoted to r&d and the country also can boast of having the highest percentage per capita of skilled engineers employed in its work force, rising from fifth place in 2006.
Israel is ranked second in the amount of funds that were raised for start-up companies, rising from number six last year, and is also number two in the Information Technology sector, one spot above 2006's ranking. In the area of international investments, the country advanced 20 spots from 2006 to number 25 this year.
There are reports that many haredim joined the labor market a few years ago in the wake of massive welfare cuts undertaken by Bibi Netanyahu. Netanyuahu's reforms in particular targeted the Haredi and Arab sector by withdrawing state allowances for so called families blessed with children (mishpakhot brukhot yeladim), better to be called children stricken families (mishpakhot mukot yeladim), given the massive poverty and proliferation of demographic bombs the old system was producing.
In the Arab sector the reforms sent the birth rates plunging, yet apparently the same effect failed to produce itself in the Haredi sector. In fact since then the Jewish birth rate has been steadily edging up. On the other hand the work force participation has certainly improved in the Haredi sector, maybe not enough to win the country a more respectable place in the WCY's category of work force participation, yet apparently enough to make Israel fall back by two spots in the category of availability of jobs.
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