At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Israel quickly introduced aggressive social distancing measures to curb the virus spread and adapted its unemployment insurance program in response to rising unemployment rates. This study examines the relationship between household income and the experience of material hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and investigates how the receipt of unemployment benefits moderated the relationship between income and material hardship. Using data from a household survey, we find a negative association between household income and the experience of material hardship. Moreover, middle-income households receiving unemployment benefits were more likely to experience material hardship than those who did not receive government support. The difference was largely not observed for low- and high-income households. These trends were similar during the early and later months of the pandemic. This study informs the efforts of policymakers to improve existing social support programs to expedite economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kondratjeva, Olga; Schwartz-Tayri, Talia; Bufe, Sam; Roll, Stephen; Gal, John; and Michal Grinstein-Weiss, “Did Government Benefits Help Israeli Households Avoid Hardship during COVID-19? Evidence from a National Survey,” (2021). Social Policy Institute Research.