The West Bank in Numbers / by Thomas-Xavier Christiane

People lie but not numbers.

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In the contemporary world, if one is looking for easy purpose and validation in society, he can choose partisanship. In order to practice it, there are a series of manuals and influencers easily available on the social networks and in dedicated libraries. On the daily basis, to feed one’s self-deception and hatred required to practice partisanship, the contemporary information network has a wide range of programs available on television and internet as well. These feed viewers 24/7 with gross interpretation of facts converted into simplistic slogans while pretending to be “defending-democracy-and-freedom-against-darkness-and-oppression” or something like that. However, if one is looking for knowledge and a realistic approach, he can choose to look for statistics. In the case of the West Bank, statistics are publicly and freely available on the Internet site of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. No need to be a secret agent or a hero. It’s indeed boring compared to a documentary with rhythmized shocking images and deafening quotes but, at least, it has the merit to be free of biases and communication strategies promoted by political organizations and associations that need money and, therefore, communicate through influencers who care more about entertaining their consumers than the actual quality and accuracy of the content that they produce.

 

Conclusions are located down the article. 

Demographics

In 2018, the West Bank was populated by 2.921.170 people. In terms of evolution, the population of the West Bank has had an increase of 1.029.999 people in the 20 years before the end of 2018. This evolution is a growth of 46,86% in 20 years or 2,34% a year. The year with the highest growth of population in terms of absolute numbers was 2018 with an addition of 64.479 people and the year with the lowest growth of population in terms of absolute numbers was 2001 with a growth of 48.919 people. In terms of percentage, the highest growth was 1999 with 2,85% and the lowest growth was 2017 with 1,9%. The percentage of growth was usually higher in the first years of the 20 years period between 1999 and 2018.

 

In 2016, the West Bank had a population density of 519 people per square kilometers. In comparison with the rest of the world, the West Bank would be located between the 23rdand the 24thplace of the world ranking with between South Korea and Rwanda according to data from the United Nations from 2018. In terms of life expectancy, in 2016, the West bank had a life expectancy of 72,4 years for men and 75.5 for women. According to the United Nations, the life expectancy of men is 2,6 years higher than the world average for men (69,8 years) and 1,1 years for women (74,4 years). In terms of comparison, the life expectancy of men is 74,2 years for men in Europe and 80,8 for women while in Africa, life expectancy is 59,6 years for men and 62,7 for women. 

 

In 2017, the fertility rate of the West Bank was 3,7. According to the World Bank, the West Bank was located between the Seychelles (3,6) and Zimbabwe (3,7). In comparison, the European Union had a fertility rate of 1,6, the Arab World (of which the West Bank is supposed to be part) had a fertility rate of 3,3 and what the World Bank calls the least developed countries in the world had a rate of 4,1. However, the infant mortality rate (the number of children who die before the age of 1 out of 1000 births) of the West Bank is 17, 0. According to the World Health Organization, in 2017 the average infant mortality rate in the world was 29. The highest rate being Somalia with 79,7 and the lowest being Finland with a rate of 1,9. In the Middle East, where the West Bank is located, the average infant mortality rate is 14,08. However, this average is skewed by the rate of Yemen that is 43,2 while most of the Middle Eastern countries have a lower rate. In addition, the definition of what is a Middle Eastern country depend of how one interprets geography. Also, the crude death rate recorded in 2018 in the West Bank was 4.0 for men and 4.1 for women. According to the World Bank, the world average in 2017 was 7,617 with Bulgaria holding the highest rate of 16 and Qatar holding the lowest rate of 2. The other countries with an average of more or less 4 were Saudi Arabia, Brunei, the Marshall Islands, Jordan, Macao, the Samoa Islands, St Martin, Andorra and Iran. However, the crude death rate is not really a relevant factor to compare the quality of life of countries since the three most developed countries in the world have a higher rate than the three least developed countries in the World.

 

The average household size of the West Bank in 2017 was of 4,9 people where the world average was located between 3 and 6. According to the United Nations, the other countries with the same value Tanzania and the Central African Republic. The highest average household size in the world was Afghanistan with a value of 8.0 and the lowest is Monaco with 1,9. In addition, the median age at first marriage in the West Bank in 2017 was 25,2 for men and 20,5 for women. According to the United Nations, the lowest median age at first marriage ever recorded in the world was 12,5 for women in Bangladesh in 1975. The lowest median age at first marriage recorded in the 21stCentury was 15,7 for women in 2006 in Niger. The lowest median age at first marriage recorded in the 21stcentury for men was 21,7 in Mozambique in 2009. On the other hand, the highest median age at first marriage for women was 32,9 in Sweden in 2010 and 35,5 for men in the same country in the same year. The numbers recorded in the West Bank for men were the same in France in 1980 and in Uzbekistan in 2006. For women, the same numbers were recorded in Ecuador in 2004, in Haiti in 1994 and 1995 and in Sudan in 1989 and 1990. However, there is only a few data available for the median age at first marriage.

 

The last indicator of relevance in terms of demographics is the age pyramid of Palestine. Visually, it looks like a Makuta, a traditional hat worn in the monarchies of South East Asia. In 2017, children below the age of 17 represented 45,48% of the Palestinian population and children below the age of 18 represented 45,48%. In the world in 2017 and according to some internet site that doesn’t cite its sources but looked ugly enough to be relevant to me, individuals below the age of 19 represent 33,9% of the world population. With a bit of mathematics, this would mean that the children below the age of 18 in the world represents approximately 32,12% of the world population. 

Education and economy.

Let’s start with the cost of education in the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). Between 2008 and 2015, the average cost of education in Palestine was 799,7$ per student per year and it represented between less than 17% and 17, 8% of the public spending of the Palestinian Authority. In terms of absolute numbers, the amount of money spent per student per year increased of 2,88% a year. But it has to mentioned that during the period 2014-2015, the spending on public education per students decreased by 5,72% and in 2009-2010, it decreased by 2,24%. As a comparison, the Palestinian Authority is located between Nepal and Mauritania in the ranking of the amount of public spending on education according to the World Bank. For the amount of money spent per student per year, I could not find data for the global average. But in a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, it is said that in 2015, the average amount of money spent on one student was 10.500$ with the highest spending by a country being 22.430$ in Luxembourg and the lowest in the countries and partners of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development being Mexico with 3611$. Finally, to close the paragraph about the cost of education, I have to emphasize that these numbers represent the cost of education in all Palestine which include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, two separate territories that have a very different philosophy when it comes to the management of the common good.

 

The classroom density is the West Bank for the period 2015-2016 was 26,9 for schools managed by the government, 32,0 for school managed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian Refugees and 22,6 for the school managed by the private sector. This means that the average number of students per class in the West Banks regardless of who is managing it is 27,2 students per class. In the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average in 2015 was 21 students per class. The highest classroom density in the countries of that organization was 30,1 in Chile and the lowest was Luxembourg with 15,7 students per class. Additionally, in the West Bank during the period 2015-2016, the number of students per computers was 17,5. As a comparison within Palestine itself, the number of students per computer was 51,8 in the Gaza Strip. 

 

In terms of educational achievements in the West Bank, the dropout rate for the period 2015-2016 for boys was 1,13 in basic school and 3,34 in secondary school. For girls, the dropout rate was 0,81 in basic school and 2,85 in secondary school. In total, for both boys and girls, the dropout rates were 0,81 in basic school and 2,85 in secondary school. As a comparison, according to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 2015 the world dropout rate for all level of education combined was 13,71%. The highest dropout rate was Chad with 71%. The West Bank was, for that period, located between Oman and Estonia in terms of Ranking. For the secondary level, according to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for the year 2015, the average dropout rate of all countries that have recorded and communicated data to the organization was 11,66%. The West Bank was, during that period, located between Monaco and Kuwait in the global ranking. The highest dropout rate in 2015 for the secondary level was Bulgaria with 54% and the lowest was Japan with 0,03%. However, these comparisons cannot fully be trusted since there are not much data available on the subject. The other point in terms of educational achievements in the West Bank are the educational attainment. In 2018, 3,3% of the people in the West Bank were illiterate. Illiteracy concerned 1,3% for men and 5,3% for women. The only other country with data available in the data of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for that year is Kuwait with an illiteracy rate of 0,9%. In addition, 20,4% of the people of the West Bank had reached secondary level education. 19,3% were men and 21,3% were women. In the academic sector, 14,8% of the people of the West Bank had an academic graduation. The rate of academic graduation was 12,5% for men and 17,3% for women. On the other hand, child labor for the youth below the age of 15 concerned 3,2% of the concerned population in 2012 and 2,4% of the concerned population in 2017. In terms of activity, 24,5% of the children below the age of 18 (not 15) worked in agriculture, 22,5% in mining, 15,9% in construction, 33,6% in trade/hotels/restaurants and 3,6% in what the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics calls “others”. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, child labor concerns 25% of the population in the poorest countries. However, the fund of the United Nations does not specify what it considers as the poorest countries and does not communicate any data on the matter. It’s just written in big letters somewhere on their internet site.

 

If you had the courage to read all of this and you wish to continue, I would like to recommend you to take a break before we start talking about economy. If not, you can jump to the conclusion at the end of the article.

In 2015, the West Bank had a GDP of 2.267.000.000 and a national income per capita of 2581,0. As a comparison, according to the World Bank, the national income per capita of the West Bank was located in the rankings between Papua New Guinea and Ukraine for the same year. The highest national income per capita was the one of Liechtenstein with a value of 116.430 and the lowest was Burundi with a value of 280. In terms of evolution, the national income per capita has been increasingly rising since 2006 when the value was 1570.

 

In terms of employment, in 2015, 85,0% of the male working force in the West Bank was employed, 73,3% of the female working force was employed and 82,7% of the total working force of men and women combined was employed. This means that 16,3% of the working force was unemployed. In terms of comparison, according to the World Bank, the West Bank is located in the rankings between Libya and Spain. The lowest unemployment rate being Qatar with 0,1% of unemployment and the highest being the Palestinian Authority itself with approximately half of the population without a job. The daily wage in the West Bank in 2015 was 120,1 New Israeli Shekels. Converted into dollars the daily wage in the West Bank in 2015 was 33,8$. Considering that the people in the West Bank work between Sunday and Thursday, it means they must be working 5 days a week and therefore have a monthly wage of 676$ according to decent mathematics. As a comparison, the West Bank would be ranked between Mexico and Bulgaria at the 112thplace out of 180 country in the lower-middle income group. However, this  indicator has been evolving positively these last 13 years.

 

The currency used in the West Bank is the New Israeli Shekel. The value of this currency is usually slightly going up and down. On the 17thof July 2019 at lunchtime, 1$ was worth 3,54 New Israeli Shekels. 

 

Finally, it is hard to get more data about the economy in the West Bank since most of the data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics do not separate the economic indicators from the Gaza Strip from the economic indicators from the West Bank. But, since tourism is considered to be one of the main economic activities of Palestine and since the Gaza Strip is not really accessible to tourists, the indicator of the room occupancy of hotels in Palestine can be used to tell more about economic activity in the West Bank with the risk of being wrong. On the average between 1996 and 2017, the room occupancy in Palestinian hotels has been 26,05%. The maximum recorded was actually an outlier: in 2008, the room occupancy was 50.8%. The lowest room occupancy was in 2001, during the beginning of the second intifada. That year, the room occupancy was 8,4%. Additionally, during the second intifada that took place between 2001 and 2006, the room occupancy in Palestine was 13,8%. After that, between 2007 and 2017, the average room occupancy was 29,3%. Since the beginning of the construction of the separation wall, the average room occupancy was 24,8%. All of this to say that if you are the average hotel owner in Palestine, you can expect an average room occupancy located between 20 and 25%. However, due to the huge differences between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the average Palestinian hotel owner might be just a statistical fantasy. 

Criminality and violence

Between 2000 and 2016, 46.729 people were arrested by the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). By a slightly difference of 1,12%, most of, them were arrested during the first half of the year. This is an average of 2749 people arrested every year by the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). 1382 during the first half and 1366 during the second half. After the Second Intifada, the average raised to 2785 which is not really a significative difference for this indicator. In 2000 and 2001 combined, the first years of the second intifada, only 2029 people were arrested. However, in 2002, 3925 people were arrested by the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). 2002 was the year with the highest numbers of people arrested by the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). In the end of 2016, the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza) detained 7911 people. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Palestinian Authority is in the average in terms of proportion of population behind bars. In the beginning of 2007, 10.425 people were detained in the Palestinian Authority (West Bank + Gaza). This is the highest number of detainees communicated by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. After that, the numbers went down until 2012 and then back up. Also, 260 juvenile offenders were recorded in institutions in 2014 in the West Bank only.

 

During the Second Intifada, 2183 people were killed in the West Bank. 2059 of them were men and 124 were women. Considering that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics acknowledge the Second Intifada as being happened between 2000 and 2009, this means that 228 people were killed every year in the violence. The place that had the biggest loss was Nablus with 600 people killed. As a comparison, the Second Intifada was approximately as deadly in terms of absolute numbers as the Peshtigo fire in the United States in 1871 and the heat wave in Pakistan in 2000. Additionally, in 2016, the total amount of houses that had been demolished by the Israeli Army was 418, displacing 1852 persons including 848 children. However, the data set (that was created in collaboration with B’Tselem, a very controversial human right organization based in Jerusalem) about the home demolition does not say during what period of time…

 

The two most common types of crimes in the West bank in 2017 were recorded as “assault” and “harming/immoral offense”. Respectively, they represent 8460 and 8018 offenses. In proportion, these two offenses represent 50,5% of the total amount of crimes committed in the West Bank. In addition, in 2017, 339 “murders/attempts” were accounted, 138 “rape/attempts” were accounted and 4788 “theft” were accounted for (what I consider) the three most harmful type of offenses. Also, 1444 “narcotic related crimes” were accounted, 906 “breach of trust/corruption” were accounted and 815 “threats/assaults on government employee” were accounted. In total, 32.647 offenses were recorded. This means that for each 1000 people, 12,6 committed a criminal offense. On the other side of crime, 5,4% of household were victimized in 2016. 3,4% were victimized by “vehicles (or just parts) theft”. This is the highest indicator of victimization in the West Bank for 2017. 2,0% of the households recorded being victimized by problems with Israeli soldiers or settlers. However, another data set gives a number of 1,3% of households victimized by problems with Israeli soldiers or settlers for the same year. This same data set gives a number of 7,1% of household victimized by problems with Israeli soldiers or settlers in 2004 and 14,9% of assaults within the Palestinian society.

 

Data on criminality is hard to compare but a significant indicator is the murder rate. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Criminality, Palestine (West Bank + Gaza) is ranked 31ston the world ranking with a murder rate of 0,69 people murdered for every 100.000 Palestinian every year. The highest murder rate in the ranking is El Salvador with 61,80 people murdered for every 100.000 El Salvadorian. Very grossly speaking, this means that approximately 100 El Salvadorian are murdered every time a Palestinian is murdered. 

A brief conclusion…

According to statistics of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the West Bank is a safe and comfortable place to live where nothing extreme happens compared to many places in the world. However, sporadic episodes of violences between the locals and the occupation forces can turn particular places at particular moments or the entirety of the territory into an uncomfortable and dangerous place depending of the political context. The West Bank is economically located slightly below the middle class of humanity but this is changing. This improvement that is happening is mostly favored by the performant demographics of the West Bank and the use of Israeli currency. However, this progress could be compromised by a low funding of education by the Palestinian Authority. 

Sources 

http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/default.aspx

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