The Haredi share of Israel’s total population was 12 percent in 2017. According to the Israel 2028 report, unless current demographic trends change drastically, Haredim will amount to over a fifth of Israel’s Jewish population in 2028.1 The share of Haredi pupils entering first grade that year will reach 28.6 percent. One demographic assessment indicates that, by 2059, Israel’s Haredi population will reach 4.15 million and constitute 34.6 percent of the entire Jewish Israeli population (26.6 percent of the total Israeli population).2 The number of Haredi youth (ages 19 and under) that year will be nearly equal to the number of [non-Haredi] Jews and others within that age range.
Low employment rates and earning levels have led to a situation where most Haredi households fall below the poverty line. Moreover, due to the Haredi sector’s consistent growth, Haredi poverty has macro effects in terms of tax receipts, transfer payments, consumption, and GDP. This is one of the main reasons why Haredi employment has been a central issue both in public discourse and among policymakers.
Faced with the demographic growth of the Ultra-Orthodox minority, some in the general society feel threatened and want to avoid contact. According to a recent JPPI public opinion poll, 49 percent of Haredim are interested in living in mixed (secular and ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods, while 78 percent of secular Jews oppose it. The explanation lies in the fear of religious coercion in common space and Haredi initiatives aimed at bringing the secular youth of mixed neighborhoods closer to religious observance.