Social and Economic Inequality in the Rural Space of Israel
This paper explores some recent manifestations of regional inequalities in the rural space of Israel. The Israeli rural space is largely made up of planned settlements, which were originally based on a principle of equal opportunity to all settlers to attain an average predetermined level of income. This principle was applied through an even allocation of agricultural means of production and institutional supporting mechanisms designed to minimize inequalities among farmers and settlements. The changes in government policy towards the rural sector which followed the economic crisis of the mid- 1980s, combined with the weakening of the stabilization mechanisms, exposed farmers and rural settlements to the vagaries of the competitive market. The spatial disparity in economic opportunities, deriving from different locational advantages and constraints, and the diversity of physical and human resources, as well as differential policies of local authorities, resulted in increasing socio-economic inequalities among households and communities. This paper is a preliminary attempt to examine a number of dimensions of inequality that exist in the rural space in Israel, and to identify the underlying factors that may explain these inequalities. The basic spatial unit un- der consideration is the regional council, and the data analysis produced three distinct clusters of regional councils which exhibit different levels of economic and social development. These differences are explained in part by diverse locational and population characteristics.(original abstract)
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