Employment History, Pensions and Economic Well-Being of the Elderly in Israel
In the current research I examine the factors which lead to inequalities among the aged population in Israel. I aim at analyzing the combined effects of life-course characteristics and welfare policy patterns in explaining and in predicting inequality at old age, both among the elderly of different social groups, as well as among the elderly of different time periods.
Three main hypotheses were suggested regarding inequality at old age. The first hypothesis assumes status maintenance, and accordingly, predicts similarities between the structures of inequalities throughout the life-course. The second hypothesis claims that accumulated advantages along the life course will result in increasing inequalities during old age, and the third hypothesis predicts that social gaps will decrease at old age as a result of state mechanisms which compensate members of weaker social groups.
In my work I will try to examine these three hypotheses and to suggest a combined model which could describe under which conditions and to which elderly group these hypotheses apply. My main assumption is that accumulated advantages during labor market activity on the one hand, and compensation mechanisms of the welfare state on the other hand combine, direct one′s life course and affect her or his relative position at old age. Moreover, I also assume that the welfare policy, although it is aimed at narrowing social gaps and at correcting inequality caused by the labor market, simultaneously maintains practices from which certain social groups benefit more than others. Therefore, I would like to compare inequality patterns at old age between men and women, Jews and non-Jews and veterans and immigrants.
My research is based on the “Sixty years old and over” survey conducted by the Israeli CBS twice – in 1985 and in 1997. The surveys contain information regarding housing conditions, household management, the medical condition of the respondent, family and social ties, leisure activity, and most importantly, detailed data regarding employment history of both respondent and spouse and their various income sources. The 1985 sample includes 5,705 respondents, aged 60 and over, who reside in Israel in urban households, and in the 1997 sample 5,055 respondents were included.
In the empirical aspect, the current research will document the economic well-being of the elderly in Israel, and more specifically, their income resources and their patterns of economic well-being. A comparison between the two time points will allow to trace the main trends in the economic well-being and to examine the effects of different employment paths and the changes in welfare policies towards the various elderly groups. Of particular interest will be the immigrant population, which is characterized by a unique life course influenced by pre-immigration life experiences. My theoretical aim is to understand the unique characteristics and components of the economic well-being at old age, from a perspective which takes into account long lasting processes of resources and assets accumulations. Suggesting a typology of life courses and examining the different consequences at old age will enable to predict the elderly life chances at this latter part of the life cycle.
Although most research in the field of stratification tends to emphasize the importance of the employment patterns in constructing social inequality, in my work I will show how the employment pattern is constantly influenced by the state interference, which creates a structural framework within which it should be understood. Moreover, I will show the relevance of employment history at old age, despite the fact that the elderly are retired and do not accumulate assets any longer. My claim is that it is important to combine the three hypotheses when examining the consistency of inequality throughout the life course. Accordingly, I will attempt to show how maintenance mechanisms, accumulation mechanisms and leveling mechanisms coexist and differentially influence members of different social groups at old age. Life course dynamics, and especially the employment path, together with social policies are at the heart of the current research and through them the issue of inequality at old age is extensively examined.