February 27, 2018

Taub 2017 “State of the Nation Report” Chapter on Arab Education and Employment

The Taub Center’s annual “State of the Nation” report is a socioeconomic snapshot of Israel spanning a range of parameters (education, labor, health, social welfare … ) According to the 2017 report, the past year has seen a rise in both employment and real wages alongside an unprecedented decrease in unemployment. Nonetheless, many sectors of the labor market are still characterized by low productivity and wages, and prices in Israel remain among the highest in the OECD. Therefore, the report concludes that Israel is likely to see economic slowdown due primarily to the growth of population groups with high unemployment and low skill levels, including Arab citizens. As such, the 2017 report includes a special focus on the Arab population in Israel with a chapter dedicated to Education and Employment Among Young Arab Israelis.” (English) 

In short, the chapter shows that there has been significant improvement in the educational attainment of Arab citizens at all schooling levels, with Arab women in particular making the most significant strides. “They are qualifying for bagrut certificates at higher rates than previously, both in relation to Jewish women and in relation to Arab Israeli men, and many of them study in science tracks. The share of Arab Israeli women pursuing higher education has also significantly increased, especially among Druze and Bedouin women, who in the past were less likely to attend college.” Despite this, the report also shows that many Arab women are still pursuing careers in education, though the labor market is saturated in this field. “There is a need to direct female students toward other fields, to increase the supply of jobs,” the report concludes, “and to create support mechanisms for women who work in fields that are not considered classic ‘women’s work.'”

Among Arab men, findings show that fewer improvements. The share of young men qualifying for a bagrut certificate has risen, but less than among Jews, and thus the gap has grown to the advantage of Jewish men. And there has been no change in the share of Arab men qualifying for an academic degree. “Nevertheless, there has been a substantial rise in the share of men studying computer science and engineering, fields that open the door to high-paying professions. The employment rates of Arab Israeli college graduates are high. Their income is similar to that of Jewish college graduates in the fields of health and education, but lower than their Jewish counterparts in business and high tech. In other words, it appears that in the latter fields, Arab Israeli college graduates have still not achieved optimal integration into the labor market.”

Detailed Findings: Matriculation, Psychometric Exam and Academic Studies, Labor Market

The chapter focus on three transition points that have historically been barriers to such integration: high school matriculation (“Bagrut”), higher education (psychometric exam and academic studies), and entry into the labor market, analyzing data on Arab citizens ages 18-36 in 2014. The data distinguishes between trends among Arab men and women, as well as sub-groups within Arab society (Bedouins, non-Bedouin Muslims, Christian-Arabs and Druze.) Figures for Arab society are then compared with non-Haredi Jewish peers.

Secondary education & high school matriculation (“Bagrut”)

  • Study majors: The number of Arab pupils who undertake a science/engineering Bagrut exam is relatively very high. Among all groups of Arab citizens, the percentage of those who chose to take the science Bagrut of those who qualified for a Bagrut certificate in general is higher compared to the Jewish population. The difference among girls is particularly striking: 39% of Jewish girls who qualified for a Bagrut certificate in 2013 studied in a “science track,” while among Arab girls, figures were 71% for Bedouins, 74% for Druze, 82% for Muslims, and 84% for Christians.

Higher Education – Psychometric exam and academic achievements

  • Psychometric exam: Still a prerequisite for most academic programs in Israel, the psychometric continues to be a significant challenge for Arab high school graduates, and the report estimates that it “contributes to the delay [of Arab youth] entering both academic studies and the labor market.” Fewer Arab high school graduates take the exam than Jews, and a far greater portion of them take it twice – for instance, 56% of those taking the Arabic language exam in 2012 were doing so for the second time, versus 32% of those taking the Hebrew language. An additional distinction between Jewish and Arab youth is that among Arabs, many who take the psychometric do not continue on to higher education. While over 85% of Jews with a psychometric score began academic studies in 2014, about half of the Arabs who complete the exam did not enroll in any Israeli academic programs (likely due to low scores).Although average psychometric scores among Arabs have risen since 2004, gaps vis-à-vis their Jewish peers remain high for both Arab women and men. While average psychometric scores among non-Haredi Jews are 597 for men and 561 for women (out of possible 800), average scores for Bedouins are 443 for men and 406 for women (gap of around 150 points); for Muslims, 496 for men and 477 for women (gap of around 100 points); for Druze, 504 for men and 473 for women (gap of around 100 points); and for Christians, 531 for men and 516 for women (gap of around 50 points). Gaps are especially wide on the English section of the exam, as English is a third and sometimes fourth language for Arab citizens.
  • Academic studies: According to existing data, in 2013 around 25% of Arabs studying toward academic degrees were doing so outside of Israel, a majority of whom were men. Among those who do study in Israeli institutions, the rate of Arabs (ages 17-28) pursuing higher education has risen and gaps narrowed compared with the Jewish population. Among non-Haredi Jews, 13.1% of men and 20.7% of women began academic studies in 2013 (only a slight increase from 2008). The increase of Arabs in Israeli academia has taken place primarily among Arab women, with almost no change among Arab men in all sub-groups. Around 5-5.5% of all Muslim and Druze men began academic studies in 2013, while the rate among Bedouin men is even lower at 2.5%. However, among women there has been a significant increase, especially among Druze and Bedouin women whose participation has risen from 10.3% to 14.3% and 5.8% to 8.6%, respectively (though rates are still low they indicate a 50% increase). Muslim women show a lower rate of increase, from 12.2% to 14.2%. Christian Arab men and women have rates similar to the Jewish population.



  • Employment of academic graduates: Not surprisingly, employment rates among Arab citizens with academic degrees are higher than among Arab citizens without a degree, a disparity that is particularly dramatic among Arab women of all subgroups, far more so than for Jewish women (2015 figures). Among Arab men, the greatest difference is among Druze – 82% versus 98% in favor of those with academic degree, and Bedouin – 67% versus 96%. Those with academic degrees from these groups are also employed at a higher rate than their non-Haredi Jewish peers, whose employment rate is 93%.Among Arab women, an academic degree is extremely influential in terms of employment: for Muslim women, employment rates rise from 29% to 81%, for Bedouin women from 17% to 87%, for Druze women from 40% to 81%, and for Christian women from 56% to 81%. In comparison, for non-Haredi Jewish women employment rates rise from 78% to 90%.
  • Employment branches: The differences between Arab and Jewish holders of academic degrees in areas of employment are similar to the differences in study majors between the groups. 29% of Jewish men with academic degrees are employed in the hi-tech industry versus 7-10% among Muslims and Druze with degrees, 15% among Christian men, and none among Bedouin men.In contrast, a large percentage of Arab men and women with academic degrees are employed in the education field: among Bedouins, 63% of men and 80% of women, while among Muslims the numbers are 60% of women and 24% of men, versus 20% of Jewish women and 9% of Jewish men. In addition to education, Muslim, Christian, and Druze men and women have high rates of employment in healthcare and Druze men with academic degrees are employed at very high rates in the security forces.


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