Social Security, Poverty, and Polarization Research Program

The social security, poverty, and polarization research program focuses on understanding the socioeconomic situation in the context of poverty, inequality, and polarization, with emphasis on studying the effects of relevant policy tools on them. In the program, the determinants of poverty and inequality are investigated thoroughly and methods and policy proposals to mitigate them by means of social and structural reforms are put forward.

 Goals of the program: Study the determinants of poverty, inequality, and socioeconomic polarization and put forward methods and policy proposals to mitigate them and strengthen social security, particularly social insurance, by using Israeli databases (the research rooms of the Central Bureau of Statistics and the National Insurance Institute) and the unique databases of SHARE, OECD, LIS, IMF, the World Bank, UNDP, Eurostat, and others. Within this frame, the program will stress reforms in the fields of long-term savings, pensions, and tools such as Savings for Every Child and universal basic income, in which implementation is still in its developmental stages.

The program is headed by Professors Daniel Gottlieb (former Deputy Director General for Research and Planning at the National Insurance Institute) and Aviad Tur-Sinai.

Research topics include the following:

  1. Strengthening the long-term sustainability of social insurance: a program that attains financial resilience without forgoing social resilience, such as a policy that links “retirement” age to healthy life expectancy;
  2. Eliminating distortions manifested in ageism, gender discrimination, and insurance-status discrimination (self-employed vs. employees, homemakers) in the field of social-insurance policy (relating to unemployment, income assurance, negative income tax, etc.);
  3. Enhancing exercise of entitlements by abolishing or weakening income tests, e.g., for nursing-care benefits, income assurance, etc.
  4. Integrating social-security policy into capital-market and pension policy: models of savings from birth and funding of various benefits;
  5. Dealing with debtors: research on the minimum needed for dignified living and deriving programs for debt payback and debt write-off with maximum consideration of creditor’s rights;
  6. Devising models that explain poverty, through which poverty may be predicted;
  7. Building a micro-macro simulation model, as is conventionally done by research institutes around the world, to give accessible and rapid policy advice. The purpose of the project is to furnish policymakers with rapid, accessible, and data-based responses by the program’s experts, using the model. The model shall include analysis of the impact of tools such as various benefits, disregard, offset rate, universal basic income, negative income tax income tax and VAT reforms, National Insurance contributions, health tax, and so on. The model will also make it possible to examine the effects of demographic changes, random shocks, crises, business turnover, etc.
  8. Matching functions for various studies, in order to enrich existing information in administrative databases at the research rooms where we will operate (relating to the population at large) with variables missing in those settings but available from various surveys. By adding variables based on advanced econometric research, the economic analysis in the aforementioned models may be improved considerably.


Students and researchers who wish to take part in the program’s research activity are invited to contact us.