The work and family lives of Israeli women: who fares best?

New DIAL Working Paper from Equal Lives shows Jewish Israeli women have access to more advantaged lives than their Palestinian counterparts

New Equal Lives research examining the work and family life courses of young Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women shows that Jewish women are substantially more likely to be in better paid more stable jobs whilst their Palestinian counterparts were more likely to be undertaking unpaid care at home with larger families.

The study uses newly-available data from the State of Israel Central Bureau of Statistics which has made it possible for the first time to track the family and working lives of people over time.

The research, Work and family life courses among Jewish and Israeli-Palestinian Women in Israel, looks at whether leading a more advantaged family and work life is linked to the women’s ethnicity, religion and background.

It groups the women in the study into five different work-family life courses and finds that Jewish women are considerably more likely to fall into the more economically advantaged groups, whereas all groups of Palestinian women were more likely to experience unstable low-paid employment or life courses doing unpaid care at home with large families.

Origin and opportunity

Family of origin and local opportunities that were available to the women where they lived explained most but not all of the ethnic and religious differences in who was leading a more disadvantaged life.

When it came to who enjoyed the more advantaged life courses, these background factors played less of a role, suggesting that work and family life courses characterised by better paid, more stable lives by are predominantly accessible to Jewish Israeli women above and beyond the structural opportunities associated with where they live.

The research also identified a  previously unnoticed but sizeable group of never-married childless Jewish women with irregular employment, mostly living in urban areas. The researchers say this may reflect the precarious and delayed work-family lives of Millennials.

Lead author, Zafer Büyükeçeci, commented:

Israel offers an interesting context in which to study work-family inequality over the life course. Although Israel is an affluent country with a developed welfare state, ethnic and religious groups participate very differently in the economy and disparately benefit from state transfers.  Israel, therefore, represents an interesting case to study social inequality in combined work family-life courses, with valuable lessons for other advanced economies and, regarding the Palestinian minority, potentially also for economically disadvantaged neighbour countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Work and family life courses among Jewish and Israeli-Palestinian Women in Israel is a DIAL Working Paper by Zafer Zafer Büyükeçeci, Anette Eva Fasang, Vered Kraus, Asaf Levanon, Evgeny Saburova.