Sunday, June 25, 2017

The apartment is always bigger on the other side

Lior Regev
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

A few months ago the 2017 Arnona (municipal tax) invoice landed in our mailboxes. Next to the total payment due, the invoice notes the size of our apartment, at least as it appears on the municipal registry.

Arnona taxes are one of the main revenue sources for local authorities in Israel, enabling a range of services for residents. Besides size of property, what determines Arnona rates is the property’s use, namely, residential, commercial, services, and the like. Jerusalem has four Arnona districts, each with a different rate per square meter.

As a general trend, apartment sizes in Israel have been steadily increasing over the years. Crumbling public housing, where three children shared a bedroom, might have sufficed in the past, but today every toddler demands a private room. Moreover, living rooms have become a permanent and ever-expanding fixture. And why make do with one bathroom, when we can have two? It is interesting to look at the repercussions of this trend for planning in Jerusalem.

Residential buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s offered relatively small apartments. The times demanded housing for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants, and the budget was scant. As of 2015, 56% of the apartments in Kiryat Yovel, 34% in Kiryat Menachem and Ir Ganim, and 43% in the Gonen (Katamon) neighborhoods (A-I) were smaller than 60 square meters (m2).

A decade later, in the 1970s and 1980s, there began to be constructed the large satellite neighborhoods, designed in advance with larger apartments. In 2015, 54% of apartments in the French Hill, 55% in Gilo, and 57% in Neve Yaakov were 61-100 m2 in size. In Ramat Eshkol, another neighborhood constructed during this period, about 60% of the apartments were in this size range. Interestingly, apartment sizes vary among the neighborhoods built during those years because the planners wanted to attract diverse groups. Apartments in the range of 61-80 m2 account for 41% in Neve Yaakov, 40% in Ramat Eshkol, and only 20% in the French Hill.

Jumping forward to the 1990s and 2000s, the trend towards larger apartments continues unimpeded. In two neighborhoods built during those years, Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa, most apartments exceed 80 m2 (82% and 74%, respectively). For the sake of comparison, only 3% of apartments in Ramat Shlomo and 2% in Har Homa are smaller than 60 m2.

So how big will apartments be in years to come?

Translation: Merav Datan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Under Construction

Yair Assaf-Shapira
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

During 2015-2016 (January 2015 through June 2016, a total of 18 months) construction was started on 70,600 housing units in Israel (provisional data, new buildings only).

The scope of construction in a particular region or locality reflects a number of factors: policy considerations, such as an interest in directing home-buyers or renters to a certain area; means of development, such as approved building plans; and a demand for housing in that region or locality. It is difficult to separate these factors, but the bottom line is that extensive residential construction will likely contribute to demographic change: more residents will be able to remain in or move to the locality.

The cities that saw the most construction were Jerusalem (3,700 construction starts), Tel Aviv (3,300), Netanya (2,300), and Petah Tikva (2,200). These four cities, however, have large populations, and it is not certain that the additional construction will have a strong impact on the population size. So where is construction likely to have a significant impact in relation to population size?

During 2015 (January 2015 through June 2016), for every 1,000 residents of Israel, construction was started on 8.4 housing units. The major cities, which need large numbers of housing units in order to accommodate population growth, were unable to reach this figure. In Jerusalem 4.3 units were started for every 1,000 residents, and in cities with a population between 200,000 and 500,000 (Tel Aviv-Yafo, Haifa, Rishon LeZion, and Petah Tikva) 6.6 units were started. The figures were higher for cities with a population between 100,000 and 200,000 (such as Netanya, Be’er Sheva, and Holon), at 9.2, and for cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000 (such as Kfar Saba, Herzliya, Hadera, and Modi’in), where construction was started on 8.7 units for every 1,000 residents.

Smaller localities saw even more new construction of housing units in relation to their population size. For example, in localities with a population between 10,000 and 20,000 (such as Tirat Karmel, Ariel, Hura, Tel Sheva, and Kafar Manda), 12.1 units were started, and in rural localities (moshavim, kibbutzim, and the like), 11.4 units were started for every 1,000 persons.

The population growth correlated with construction trends: in cities with a population above 200,000 it was below average, and in the smaller localities it was higher. The sharpest increase in population during 2015 was recorded in rural localities, at 2.9%. Jerusalem, by comparison, had a population growth of 1.9%. It should be noted that population growth depends on a number of factors, not only on construction.

Translation: Merav Datan

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Employment-Population Ratios

Yair Assaf-Shapira
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research,

In 2015 (the last year for which data are available), a total of 321,000 men and women were employed in Jerusalem. Although Jerusalem is Israel’s most populous city, the number of people employed in the city is smaller than the figure for Tel Aviv – Yafo, which has a total of 406,700 employed persons. Haifa has a total of 176,600, and for Israel as a whole the total is 3,653,800.
A city’s workforce is a source of economic power: workplaces pay relatively high municipal taxes, and persons employed in the city spend money and consume services such as culture, commerce, or even parking, thus in effect creating more employment opportunities. Construction of office buildings and other workplaces also generate revenues for the city through levies and fees. 
Might we conclude, therefore, that the economic power provided by persons employed in Jerusalem is less than that provided by those employed in Tel Aviv – Yafo and greater than in Haifa? Not necessarily, because the population of Jerusalem is twice that of Tel Aviv and three times that of Haifa. In other words, the economic power generated by workplaces in Jerusalem serves a much larger number of residents. To assess the economic power derived from places of employment in relation to population, we calculated the ratios between a city’s employed persons (who are not necessarily all residents) and the city’s population. 
The employment-population ratio in Jerusalem stood at 374 employed persons for every 1,000 residents of the city. This is significantly lower than the figures for Tel Aviv (947) and Haifa (635), which serve as centers of employment for large, densely populated metropolitan areas. A comparison with other major cities reveals that Jerusalem’s ratio is higher than that of Rishon LeZion (362) and Ashdod (333), but lower than that of Petah Tikva (522), Be’er Sheva (445), and Netanya (405).
Jerusalem’s low ratio results from relatively low rates of participation in the workforce among certain population groups, a relatively small number of workplaces in the city, and the difficulty of attracting people to work in the city. At the same time, it appears that since 2010 Jerusalem’s employment-population ratio has increased. In 1995, 2000, and 2005 it stood at 332, 329, and 331, respectively, then rose to 343 in 2010 and, as noted, to 374 in 2015. As we know, Jerusalem’s population is not declining in size, and the ratio is increasing because new workplaces are opening at a faster rate than the population is increasing. 

Translation: Merav Datan