In the first part of this chapter we argued that involuntary lack of labour activity represents a significant living conditions problem. Traditionally, much emphasis has been put on unemployment ratios, which have been regarded as the most valid expression of this problem. In our opinion, the high prevalence of part-time work in the occupied territories, and the relatively low prevalence of (ILO defined) unemployment, require unemployment ratios to be supplemented by other statistics for labour under-utilization. Particularly, variations in labour force participation and part-time work among adult men between 25 to 55 years of age by regions and socio-economic groups, may provide useful complementary information.

Male labour force participation is especially low for young and old men, and among Gaza refugees. The non-activity of the the two former groups is primarily caused by education and sickness/ old age respectively. The low recorded labour activity for Gaza refugees can, however, most probably be explained by constraints on the labour market caused by political and economic circumstances.

Lack of full-time employment among adult men is prevalent in Gaza, notably in the southern part. Both in Gaza and in the West Bank the share of full-time workers decreases with decreasing household wealth and education. It is reasonable to assume that the low prevalence of full-time work in Gaza is a reflection of the generally difficult labour market situation in Gaza, rather than of a smaller need for such work here than in other regions. The involuntary character of this condition may thus validate claims that the lack of full-time work represents a deprivation of welfare and living conditions.

Results on the prevalence of "discouraged workers" must be interpreted in light of the differences that may be inferred between various socio-economic groups with regard to requirements for type of work and job location. Unemployment ratios based on ILO definitions are vulnerable to the effect of different perceptions of own status and ambitions for type and location of work, as they do not take them into account. The high unemployment ratios in Arab Jerusalem and among the well educated are probably to a large extent attributable to motivation factors, and should not necessarily be interpreted as a manifestation of deprivation.

While labour force participation is especially low for women in all three survey areas, it is hard to assess precisely to what extent this lack of recorded formalized labour activity can be ascribed to, respectively, measurement methods and definitions of "work", and the possible involuntary nature of such work. Thus, it would not be justifiable to conclude that the small prevalence of female formalized labour reflects widespread underemployment and under-utilization of labour among women. On the contrary, the results for women's use of time show that women, on average spend almost 60 hours a week on housework and income generating activities. The majority of women are thus "employed" more than full-time with productive and reproductive activities.

Investigation of Palestinian employment in Israel reveals that particularly individuals in Gaza, persons from poor households, and citizens of West Bank villages tend to work there. Employment in Israel seems to be the last expedient for groups of workers in the occupied territories unable to find employment locally. There is an obvious need for new employment opportunities, particularly in low-income Gaza. The existence of a very young population of the occupied territories - as we approach the next millennium one in two will be under 15 years of age - means that 15.000 individuals will enter the labour market annually. Taken together, Israeli unemployment and immigration from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) make it unlikely that the Israeli labour market will be able to absorb surplus labour from the occupied territories. Thus, ideally, 100.000 jobs need to be created locally in the occupied territories before the turn of the century71.
The indicators used by FAFO for under-utilization of labour have, problems of measurement and interpretation notwithstanding, clearly identified Gaza refugees, in particular refugees in camps as the group which is worst off in terms of employment.


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