Material Assistance to People Living in Poverty: A Historical Survey and Current Trends

John Gal, Michal Krumer-Nevo, Shavit Madhala, Guy Yanay

Research output: Book/ReportReport


The policy to alleviate poverty in Israel has changed frequently in recent
decades, particularly with regard to material assistance to people living in
poverty. In the early years of the State, financial assistance was provided
to the poor by the welfare bureaus. During the 1980s, with the adoption of
the Income Support program, responsibility was transferred to the National
Insurance Institute (NII). At the beginning of the 2000s, policy changes led
to a sharp reduction in assistance levels and in the number of those eligible
for it, alongside a major effort to encourage those living in poverty to enter
the labor market. Despite these efforts, the share of families in Israel living
in poverty remains particularly high at almost one-fifth (18.4 percent) of
During the past decade, there has been a further change in poverty policy.
Alongside National Insurance Institute cash benefits, there has been an
effort to provide those living in poverty with comprehensive psychosocial
solutions, including material assistance, through social workers in social
service departments. This policy, which is demonstrated in the Families
First program operated jointly by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and
Social Services, The Rashi Foundation and JDC-Ashalim offers intensive and
holistic treatment to participating families, that includes active take-up of
rights, help in labor market integration and also material assistance.
This study examines the changes in poverty policy during the last four
decades and the factors behind those changes, particularly the expansion
of social service departments’ responsibilities to help families in poverty.
The study also analyzes the characteristics of the Families First program
participants and the patterns of usage of material assistance among the
various population groups. On the basis of the findings, several possible
directions are proposed to improve the system of material assistance as a
means of reducing poverty.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTaub Center
Number of pages51
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NamePolicy Paprers


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