Notes (Chapter 7)
- Important topics like the role of the labour market as a social arena,
as a place for acquiring qualifications and skills, and its consequences
for worker's health, will be left for future special reports.
- Employment is, of course, not only interesting from a perspective of living
conditions, but also from that of macro-economics. In particular in Less
Developed Countries, short of capital and technology, labour activity is
a major determinant of the total economy's production of goods and services.
The limited reliable economic statistics available on the occupied territories
has led us also to include some aspects of employment which mainly have
relevance for macro-economics in the discussion.
- The "determinant week" used in the FAFO survey varied non-systematically
over geographical areas in the time period from June to August 1992. The
assessment of a person's labour force status is based on what the person
was actually doing during this week. Subjective perceptions of own "occupation"
are not relevant for the labour force classification.
Labour activity conducted by prisoners, children or by Israeli settlers
is not measured by the survey, even when taking place in the occupied territories.
The omission of the widespread phenomenon of child work through imposing
a 15 year age limit on the respondents was made because of the very substantial
costs involved in measuring such activity with any degree of accuracy. Children's
work, which mainly takes place inside family enterprises, is not likely
to be reported in regular surveys, and there is a need for supplementary
surveys particularly designed to cope with the characteristics of child
labour. In contrast to many Western labour force surveys, no upper limit
has been put on the age of the respondents because of the relatively small
proportion of old people in the population.
- For unpaid work on family farms or in businesses the time limit is 15
or more working hours in the determinant week.
- A separate discussion of domestic work is conducted in the section on
women's labour activity.
- See Table A.7.1 in the Labour Table Appendix (A.7) for references to the
discussion in this section.
- The CBS results for "Non-Jews" in Israel include the Palestinian
population in annexed Arab Jerusalem and the Druse population on the Golan
Heights. The Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank, on the contrary,
is not included. The CBS results for Jews in Israel also include Jewish
settlers in the occupied territories.
In Norway, the lower and upper age limits in labour force surveys are 16
and 74 years respectively. Persons outside this age interval are not included
in labour force regardless of amount of labour activity.
As can be seen from Table A.7.30 in the Labour Table Appendix, FAFO numbers
are higher than CBS numbers for the occupied territories. The two sets of
results are thus not directly comparable.
- The share of the population above working age, however, is very small
in the occupied territories, thus having the opposite effect when comparing
with Israeli Jews and populations in Western countries.
- See the section about women's employment at the end of the chapter for
a more comprehensive discussion of this topic.
- The close family-based economic network in the occupied territories reduces
individual labour activity's value as an indicator of individual access
to economic resources. The economic resources disposable for an individual
household member are often more dependent on the Head of Household's labour
activity than his or her own employment. Employment's direct role as indicator
of income is thus mainly treated in the discussion of Head of Household's
labour activity in the household economy chapter.
- See Table A.7.2 and Table A.7.3, in this chapter's appendix A.7, for
references to the discussion in this section.
- See Table A.7.3 in the Labour Table Appendix (A.7) for group specific
variations in (adult) male labour force participation.
- Figure 7.4 shows that the differences between Gaza and the West Bank
are much greater for the young and the old than for middle-aged men. The
relatively low participation rate for men with 0 years of education may
be explained by a high number of old men in this group.
- The 94% participation rate for males in central West Bank is the highest
for any geographical region.
- Note that The low labour force participation rate in Gaza also reflects
the high share of low participation rate camp dwellers in the Gaza population.
- The failure of agriculture to employ the increasing working age population
is largely self-evident. First, Gaza has very limited land and water resources.
Second, land and water resources have often been confined to expanding Israeli
settlements. Third, the land remaining on Palestinian hands is unevenly
distributed and partially owned by absentee landlords. Finally, competition
from the modern Israeli agricultural sector has eroded Palestinian agricultural
revenues by lowering prices on agricultural produce.
- Drawing a sharp line between the possible voluntary or involuntary nature
of lack of labour activity is hardly possible. These perceptions are closely
tied to cultural norms governing about the relation between a person's sex,
age and social status, and which places and types of work that can be considered
- Low recorded levels of unemployment is a feature observed in many developing
countries. Commonly, the unemployment rate, as measured according to the
labour force framework, tends to increase when a country moves towards industrialization.
While there is general consensus that overall under-utilization of labour
probably is the greatest in very poor countries, labour force surveys in
these countries often yield lower unemployment rates than for prosperous
countries. (The unemployment rate measured in India is for example lower
than in the US).
- A person classified as "unemployed" according to the labour
force framework must meet three criteria simultaneously. 1) He must be without
work, (i.e. must not have worked even for one hour the previous week); 2)
he must be seeking work; and 3) he must be available for work, if he is
offered a job.
- See Table A.7.4 in the Labour Table Appendix (A.7) for references to
the discussion in this section. Note, however, the small absolute size of
the unemployment group when comparing results for separate socio-economic
- See the subsequent discussion about underemployment for further discussion
of part-time work.
- See Table A.7.5 in the Labour Table Appendix (A.7) for reference to the
discussion in this section. Note, however, the generally small absolute
number of "discouraged workers" when comparing results for separate
- The "relaxed" seeking work criterion in ILO terminology.
- In the FAFO survey this classification is given to persons answering
6,7,8 or 9 on variable 244.
- Note that the low percentage of discouraged workers among women is due
to the high number of women outside the labour force. It is further reasonable
to believe that the fairly high number of women answering "other reasons"
for not seeking work on this variable, also refers to the general lack of
employment opportunities for women. As will be further discussed later,
female employment is frequently recognized as a sign of low status if not
of a professional type.
- See: "Surveys of economically active population, employment, unemployment
and underemployment, ILO Geneva 1990, p. 121.
- Ibid p. 143.
- See Table A.7.6 and Table A.7.7 in the Labour Table Appendix for reference
to the discussion in this section.
- Unlike time worked, income may be transferred among reference periods,
and may thus be difficult to integrate into a time-based labour force framework
with a short reference period. This problem is particularly manifest in
agricultural work where income appears at the time of produce sale, even
if reflecting work carried out throughout the whole agricultural season.
- Part-time workers were defined as persons working 6 weeks or less during
the last two months prior to the survey. Full-time workers as persons working
7 weeks or more during the same time period.
- Use of low income as criterion for invisible underemployment is problematic
because low income may reflect the institutional set-up rather than low
labour productivity. This problem is perhaps most clearly exemplified by
unpaid family labour among women and children. In family enterprises it
may be particularly difficult to trace the individual income components
required to measure invisible underemployment.
- A measurement system called "labour utilization" has been used
in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
For operational reasons, ICLS (International Conference on Labour Studies)
has recommended that statistical measurement of underemployment be limited
to visible underemployment only (Ibid p. 145).
As an indicator for under-utilization of skills, the share of employed persons
who have more than 13 years of education, but work in vocational or non-skilled
jobs, has been estimated. These persons constitute 3% of the labour force
in the occupied territories, 4% in Gaza and 2% in the West Bank. The problem
of underemployment deserves more attention and research. Data requirements
are such that separate surveys may be required.
- Note that as much as 2/3 of Gaza's population are UNRWA refugees. The
score for this group is thus also largely decisive in determining the regional
score for Gaza.
- In the following discussion we will use the concept "employed persons"
as labour force members who, in the summer of 1992, had worked at least
one month in the preceding year. See the Labour Table Appendix for a further
- See Table A.7.8, Table A.7.9, Table A.7.10, Table A.7.11 and Table A.7.12
in the Labour Table Appendix for references to the discussion in this section.
- See also the discussion on labour force participation in the first part
of this chapter.
- Relatively small wage differences, geographical distances and the need
for permissions lead to very little labour migration between Gaza and other
regions in the occupied territories. Within the main regions of the occupied
territories, geographical distances should normally be a smaller obstacle
than in most Less Developed Countries due to small distances and a relatively
advanced communication system. Restrictions on entry into (Israeli annexed)
Arab Jerusalem, however, in effect separate the northern part of the West
Bank from the southern part. Frequent curfews in the central parts of the
Gaza Strip similarly separate the greater Gaza City area from the southern
part of the Strip.
- See Table A.7.13 and Table A.7.14 in the Labour Table Appendix for references
to the discussion in this section.
- This low number may partially have been caused by a survey measurement
system which faces problems encompassing unpaid family work, a form of production
predominantly found in agriculture.
- This result is partially due to a higher share of the labour force in
Gaza employed in Israel where job stability is lower than for employment
in the occupied territories. Also for persons employed in the occupied territories,
however, job stability is lower for Gaza than for other regions.
- Much agricultural land on Palestinian hands in Gaza has, in addition,
been used for less labour-intensive orange plantations.
- Since the Gulf War, new restrictions on workers from the occupied territories
have been implemented but, perhaps more importantly, existing regulations
have been enforced.
- A Palestinian worker seeking legal employment in Israel, applies to the
employment office in his region, which assigns a job with an Israeli employer.
He is only authorized to work on the specific tasks and place assigned by
the employment office, and change of work place or employer requires updating
of the permission. Work permits are not considered contracts of employment,
and if an employer does not longer need a worker, all he has to do is to
inform the employment service. Workers employed on daily contracts are entirely
dependent on their employers, who freely decide whether or not to re-engage
them for the next day. Wages for (legal) employment in Israel are indirectly
paid through a so-called "payment unit". Employers pay gross salaries
to this unit which deducts taxes. Social benefits provided to a worker by
Israeli authorities are proportional to the number of work days registered
for him with the payment unit. The bureaucracy following the establishment
of the payment unit has led to use of direct and indirect methods of surpassing
the formal regulations imposed by Israeli authorities. Both employers and
employees save taxes by by-passing the payment system. The employer also
saves social costs. Because most workers have to wait two weeks for their
salaries after the end of the month, there is an incentive to use directly
paid, illegal "hand money". There is also a common practice among
employers to register a smaller amount of days than actually worked, which
has led to a de facto minimum requirement of 15 days to be declared for
Officially, the Israeli government wants to put an end to the practice of
illegal and unorganized Palestinian labour activity in Israel. There has
been an increase in the number of registered workers with the payment unit,
from 38.500 in 1990 to 74.000 in December 1991. Today, about 70% of the
workers in Israel have formal permits (source: "Communication from
the Israeli Government to the ILO report on the occupied territories",
1992, page 100).
Regulations for Palestinian workers in Israel have changed frequently with
fluctuations in political tension. Lately, Palestinian workers have been
required to be picked up by their Israeli employers before being allowed
into Israel. Not only work seekers, but also those already holding a job,
have had to wait for their employers to provide authorized transport to
their places of work in Israel. Such restrictions cause great difficulties
for Palestinian workers who may have to wait for their employers for hours
behind barbed wire, often in vain.
- "Green Cards" are issued for periods of 6 months, and are given
to persons who have been released after detention on security grounds. In
December 1991, 15.000 Palestinians held a green card, 9.000 in the West
Bank and 6.000 in Gaza. (Source: Haaretz June 17th, 1991).
- See Table A.7.15 and Table A.7.16 in the Labour Table Appendix for references
to the discussion in this section. The tables show the percentage of labour
force members in each group that works in Israel. If the fraction for a
specific group in the occupied territories in total exceeds 26%, for Gaza
38%, or for the West Bank 25%, the group is over-represented in the Israeli
labour market relative to other groups of the Palestinian labour force in
- There seems to be great stability with regard to main place of work.
About 99% of the workers who worked in Israel during the last year, also
had their main employment in Israel during the last 2 years.
It is worth noting that a large number of Palestinian workers also are employed
by Israeli institutions and enterprises inside the occupied territories.
Palestinian employment in Israeli settlements number approximately 4.000
in the West Bank and 2.000 in Gaza. (Source: ILO report on the occupied
territories, 1992, page 27). A further 5.000 workers from the occupied territories
are employed in the Israeli "Civil Administration". None of these
groups are included among "workers in Israel". The number of permits
needed for employment in the settlements, has usually been lower than for
employment to Israel proper.
- Note that the West Bank still supply most workers in Israel in absolute
- There is no correlation between worker's attitudes towards a future Palestinian
state and prevalence of work in Israel. This may indicate that seeking work
in Israel is determined by other factors than the worker's political attitudes
- The relatively low share of persons in the youngest age group employed
in Israel is probably caused by Israeli restrictions on work permits for
the very young. Israeli authorities commonly tend to regard young men as
posing the greatest "security risks".
- See the discussion of average daily travel time in the next section.
- See Table A.7.17, Table A.7.18, Table A.7.19, Table A.7.20, Table A.7.21
and Table A.7.22 in the Labour Table Appendix for references to the discussion
in this section. Note that Table A.7.21 and Table A.7.22 partially overlap
thematically with the succeeding tables, but use alternative classifications
to allow for comparison with results from the CBS.
- Note that employed persons in Arab Jerusalem are included both in the
two groups residing in the occupied territories and in the group of "Non-Jews"
- More than 80% of Palestinian workers in Israel commute on a daily basis.
Staying overnight in Israel is usually prohibited but a substantial number
of workers ignore these regulations. (Sources: International Labour Conference,
79th Session 1992, Report of the Director General, page 33. Annex 2, "Communication
received from the Israeli government", page 98).
- On the other hand, daily commuting also reduces potential problems following
up-rooting of workers from their homes and cultural environment, phenomena
known from studies of permanent international migration.
- In their labour force survey based on household interviews, the CBS estimated
the 1990 number workers from Gaza and the West Bank in Israel to approximately
108 000. (Because only 3/4 of these workers had regularized employment it
is, however, reasonable to assume a substantial degree of under-reporting
in this field). The 1990 number of employed persons in Israel numbered 1.49
million out of a labour force comprising 1.65 million. (Sources: 1) International
Labour Conference, 79th Session 1992, Report of the Director General, Annex
2, "Communication received from the Israeli government", page
97. 2) Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1991, tables 27.21 and 12.1).
- See Semyonov & Lewin-Epstein, "Hewers of Wood and Drawers of
Water" 1987, page 17.
- The problem of low job security and stability has been high-lighted by
the increasing number of workers seeking employment in Israel, following
immigration from CIS and the consequences for Palestinian workers of the
curfew during the Gulf War.
- See Semyonov & Lewin-Epstein, "Hewers of Wood and Drawers of
Water" 1987, page 89.
- See Table A.7.23 in appendix A.7 for references to the discussion in
- "The Revaluation of Women's Work", Croom Helm, 1988, p. 15.
- The present process of economic modernization in the occupied territories
is likely to be followed by a shift in consumer preferences from services
towards material goods. As an activity not directly generating income, domestic
work may thus have its status further eroded in the future, compared to
income generating activities.
- See also appendix A.7.
- Out of the 8% of all women who had a job outside the home the year prior
to the survey, as many as 83% were members of the labour force at the time
of interviewing. (The remaining 17% probably did not work during the one-week
reference period that determined their labour force status). By contrast,
only 48% of the women doing non-formalized jobs the previous year, were
members of the labour force at the time of the survey. Even if some of these
women probably did not work at all in the reference week, most of them probably
did not consider their labour activity as "work". Particularly
such agricultural work as raising animals, was not accounted for. The overall
response rate for in-house unpaid production was low compared to expectations
prior to the survey. The main problem in documenting female labour activities
thus seems to be how to measure work actually conducted, rather than too
- See Table A.7.3, Table A.7.24 and Table A.7.25 in the Labour Table Appendix
for references to the discussion in this section.
- See "A Study of Women and Work in Shatti Refugee Camp of the Gaza
Strip", Arab Thought Forum Jerusalem (Lang/Mohanna) 1992, page 73.
To avoid criticism from male relatives and the neighbouring community, many
women accept low pay work at home (e.g. embroidery or sewing). Income generating
work at home is, of course, also easier to combine with child care and other
domestic work. Some women even travel to another area to avoid criticism
from the local community.
- Ibid page 55.
- Even though most Christian women live in the central West Bank region,
the overall female labour force participation rate is not higher here than
in the northern and the southern parts of the West Bank.
- The small difference between working and non-working women in Gaza seems
to be rooted in misperceptions of the content of the expression "free
to move at will". Labour force participation in Gaza is actually much
higher among women who, when presented with specific activities, answer
"can go alone", than for women generally claiming they are free
to move at will.
- See Table A.7.26, Table A.7.27, Table A.7.28 and Table A.7.29 in appendix
A.7 for references to the discussion in this section.
- Information about women's weekly time use should be used with caution
because of problems with reporting. Some women counted parallel activities
twice, yielding more hours of weekly activity than the possible total of
168 hours. Other women, in particular older women, reported far less than
70 weekly hours, including relaxing. There is, however, a possibility that,
on average, these reporting errors may offset each other.
- In the short run, reduced Jewish immigration to Israel will also negatively
affect Palestinian employment because of the high employment share in construction
among workers from the occupied territories.