Study finds Israeli kids among poorest in the West

JERUSALEM — Israeli children are among the poorest in Western industrialized countries, according to a new study conducted by an institute in Luxembourg.

The findings, reported this week in The New York Times, found that the poorest of the poor children were in Ireland, followed by Israel and the United States.

According to the study, conducted by the non-profit Luxembourg Income Study, households with poor children in Israel had an annual after-tax income of $7,871. In the United States, the family income is $10,923, and in Ireland, the income is $6,692.

In relative terms, Swiss and Swedish poor children are the best off, both with an annual family after-tax income of $18,829.

But the gap between after-tax household incomes of poor and rich children in Israel was found to be among the smallest of the Western nations, at $25,521. That gap in the United States was the widest of the countries studied, at $54,613.

Some Western countries, such as Spain and Greece, were not included in the study because even though many poor children live there, data was limited.

Child poverty has risen in Israel, the study also showed.

But in Jerusalem, social researchers said the study was based on 1991 data and that the current picture for Israeli children was not as bleak.

Several programs have been initiated to increase income support for families and children below the poverty line, Jack Habib, director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's Brookdale Center for Social Challenges, told Israel Radio.

He cited two such recent moves: the expansion of child allowances for single-parent families and for families with a disabled parent.

Habib stressed that the problem still was serious, but that 1994 figures point to fewer children living below the poverty line.