What Explains the Economic Success of Israel?


By Mark Schug, Ph.D.









It is almost exactly a year ago today that my wife and I visited Israel for the first time. On the one hand, we only had three days there. On the other hand, Israel is about the size of New Jersey.

We were impressed with what we learned including high tech companies popping up in Jerusalem, amazing dry farming projects, and Tel Aviv, the financial hub. All this got me interested in putting together a new FAU Lifelong Learning Institute presentation focusing on Israel’s economy.

Let’s start by establishing some context for the region. Let’s consider the economic conditions of Israel’s immediate neighbors.

· Egypt, with its huge population and many resources, has a per capital GDP of $12,600.

· Jordan, with high rates of poverty, high unemployment, and a lot of government debt, clocks in with a per capita GDP of $12,300.

· Lebanon has a relatively free economy but the uncertainty produced by the Syrian conflict has hindered economic expansion. Lebanon has a per capita GDP of $19,100.

· Syria, of course, is an economic basket case due to years of turmoil. President Bashar al-Asad has presided over an economy that has declined by 70% since 2010. Its per capita GDP stands at $2,300, about the same as Zimbabwe.

So, what about Israel? This nation of 8 million people has an economy that is growing at about 4% annually. Its per capita GDP is $35,200. This is an economy about the size of Italy or Spain.

Of course, Israel has not always been this way. Some LLI students might recall that back in the 1950s, Israel had a socialist economy with a large government sector. Price controls were widespread. Food was rationed not unlike it was in many nations during World War II. Illegal markets and smuggling were common.

Fast forward to 2017. Israel is a technologically advanced, free-market economy. It has more startup companies per capita than any other nation. Israel leads France and Germany combined in venture capital. It remains relatively resource poor but it now has off-shore natural gas reserves.

Just how did Israel move from socialism and austerity to widespread prosperity? We will explore this topic in my Monday, December 11 lecture at 9:30 a.m. I mean, really, how could you stay away?

Mark C. Schug, Ph.D.
Why is Israel an Economic Success?
An Economic Analysis of Israel and Some of Its Neighbors Including Egypt
Monday, December 11, 2017; 9:30 – 11 a.m.
To register, click here. 

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