Dissertation Abstracts

Integrating a Minority Group into the Labor Market: The Case of the Haredim in Israel

Author: Sofer-Furman, Hagit , hagitsf@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Tel-Aviv, Israel
Supervisor: Prof. Haya Stier and Dr. Alisa Lewin
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Hebrew

Keywords: Labor Market , Ethnic Economy , Ultra Orthodox , Israel
Areas of Research: Economy and Society , Work , Stratification


The study examines integration of ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Jewish population in Israel into the labor market, as a unique case study for integration of a self-segregating minority group into the labor market.
The body of knowledge dealing with integration of minority groups into labor markets focused mainly on immigrant groups and assumed they face discrimination. According to Assimilation theory jobs in the open market benefit economically members of minority groups more than jobs inside their community. On the other hand literature dealing with “Ethnic Economies” stresses that labor market segregation of minority groups (working in places dominated by minority group members), limits competition from the majority group thus offering minority group members better job opportunities. Numerous studies tested this assumption but have yielded inconclusive results.
These theories ignore the fact that some minority groups are motivated to segregate themselves in the labor market by a concern to preserve unique cultural/religious characteristics and not necessarily due to discrimination or economic considerations. Such a group is the Haredi population.
The major purpose of this study is to add the “self-segregation” aspect to theoretical literature dealing with labor market integration of minority groups. The study examines selection mechanisms of Haredi population into the labor market and within it into the inner market (“Haredi market”) and the open market. It examines uniqueness of jobs occupied by Haredi population and their selection into quality jobs. Finally, a comparison is done between jobs occupied by Haredi population in the Haredi market and in the general market. Various economic and non-economic measurements are used to obtain a broad picture on quality of jobs. “Haredi market” is defined as working places in which employer, all employees, and all customers are Haredi, reflecting a tight social and cultural enclave.
Research population includes 2100 Haredi women and men who participated in a program assisting in finding work.
Results show the selection mechanism of a self-segregating minority group to the inner economy is influenced not only by economic considerations and relevant human capital, but also to a high degree by ideology and social control.
With regard to the question into which market, inner or general, does the self-segregating minority group integrate better, results are not identical for men and women, nor are they identical using objective-economic aspects and subjective aspects. When focus is on economic aspects integration of minority group members depends on whether they have human capital relevant to and demanded in the general labor market to enable them integration into quality jobs. In this sense, assimilation theory describes integration of Haredi women better than it describes integration of Haredi men.
With regard to non-economic aspects, the unambiguous conclusion is that for men and women alike, work in the inner market is more rewarding. This claim originates in the Ethnic Economy literature, even though this literature refers to economic characteristics only.
Results also throw light on the unique behaviour patterns of Haredi population in the Israeli labor market. Among others they show significant differences in working patterns of different Haredi sub-groups.