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Asaf Levanon and Evgeny Saburov

While the share of workers among the poor varies across countries, working poverty is not uncommon. This is especially true in Israel, where the incidence of poverty among workers has risen dramatically in recent years. Currently, about 12 percent of working families live below the poverty line in Israel. The rise in the share of the poor among workers became especially pronounced in Israel since 2003, when the Israeli government reduced the generosity of several welfare programs and installed stricter eligibility conditions. As a result, families with at least one working parent currently account for about 50 percent of the families living in poverty in Israel. The composition of the working poor population in Israel reflects the general contours of inequality in the country. Working poverty is closely connected with household structure and ethno-national distinctions. By contrast, distinctions by age, which play a major role in other institutional contexts, play a smaller role in shaping poverty prospects in the Israeli context. The chapter builds on a typology of three major antecedents of poverty among workers – ethnicity, household structure and age – and documents their changing association with the likelihood of poverty during a 21-year span in which major demographic and institutional changes have occurred in the Israeli society and labor market. The chapter utilizes data from the Israeli Income Survey, from 1991 to 2011. Results document a pronounced increase since 2000 in the risk of poverty among the Arab population, single-headed households and households with more than two children. The chapter discusses these trends in light of changes in the institutional context in Israel, most notably the changes in welfare policy.