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While the emigration of higher-education Israelis is well documented, the massive influx of highly educated immigrants to the Jewish state is largely ignored.

By: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. According to Adam Reuter, Chairman of “Financial Immunities” and author of the 2018Israel – Island of Success(Globes Business Daily, Dec. 19, 2018): Israel is not afflicted by brain-drain, but benefits from brain-gain.

While Israel’s establishment documents net-migration of higher-education Israelis, it fails to document the massive influx of higher-education Olim (Jewish immigrants).  About 2/3 of the Olim – 18-years-old and older – have gone through higher education. For instance, in 2015, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported a brain-drain of 1,360 higher-education Israelis, ignoring the 14,870 higher-education Olim, who arrived in 2015, 48 percent of whom possessed graduate degrees and PhDs.

While the ratio of higher-education Israelis (compared to the entire population) ranks third in the world, following Japan and Canada, the ratio of higher-education Olim is significantly higher than the rest of Israel’s population. Over 25 percent of the Olim are experienced in the critical areas of hightech, engineering, computer science, medicine and health.

From 1980-2010, 30,000 higher-education Israelis emigrated (the total of exiting, minus returning Israelis), while 290,000 higher-education Olim arrived from the USSR, France, the USA, etc.. Considering the 25,000 higher-education Olim who emigrated, there was a net brain-gain of 235,000 from 1980-2010.

From 2010-2018, some 105,000 higher-education Olim arrived (out of a total of about 198,000 Olim), while 22,000 higher-education Israelis emigrated – a net brain-gain of 83,000; an annual net brain-grain of 9,000.

From 1980-2018, there has been a net brain-gain of 315,000 higher-education people!

Moreover, from 2010-2016, 4,000 PhD Israelis returned to Israel with enhanced experience and networking, providing tailwind to economic growth.

2. Israel’s 2018 economic indicators according to Bank of Israel: Israel’s public debt to GDP ratio: 60.4 percent in 2017, 66.1 percent – 2014, 71.1 percent – 2010 [225 percent – 1985], compared with the European Union – 81 percent, Britain – 85 percent and the USA – 105 percent.
GDP growth – 3.7 percent, GDP per capita – $39,600, unemployment rate – 4.1 percent, inflation rate – 1.2 percent [445 percent – 1985].

3.  Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jewish population has been increasingly integrated into Israel’s economy, as documented by Eli Paley, the founder and Chairman of the Jerusalem-based Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Institute for Public Affairs. The Haredi Institute – in cooperation with top (secular) Israeli hightech entrepreneurs – is dedicated to the enhancement of the Haredi integration into Israel’s hightech sector.  The latter is the major driving force behind Israel’s economic growth, but is threatened by a growing shortage of skilled developers.

The goal of the Institute is to increase the number of Haredi persons in the hightech sector, while moving them from low-tech to high-tier positions.

The Haredi community has expanded from 4 percent of Israel’s population in 1980 to 11 percent in 2018, while accounting for approximately 20 percent of the younger-than-nine population.

While 18 percent of the working Haredi women possessed academic degrees in 2006 (compared to 7 percent of the Haredi men), the volume grew to 24 percent in 2016 (compared to 11 percent of the Haredi men).

A recent study, by the Institute, on The Quality of Life among Israel’s Population Groups, documents a rise in the employment rate among Haredi men from 40 percent in 2008 to 52 percent in 2018, while the employment rate among Haredi women surged from 57 percent to 75 percent over the past decade. However, despite the rise in employment, the majority of Haredi Israelis remain employed in lower-level positions.

According to tests and evaluations conducted by the Haredi Institute, the graduates of Haredi seminaries – in the computer science track – demonstrate talent, strong work ethics and ambition equal to the secular population.

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