Dr. Maya Choshen
Labor force participation rates are calculated as the number of individuals between the ages of 20 and 65 who are actively involved in the labor force as a percentage of the entire working-aged population.  The category of labor force participants includes those who are employed or are actively seeking employment.  Recently, the country has been embroiled in a public and professional debate over the age of retirement for women in Israel, which is currently lower than retirement age for men. This debate is naturally connected to more general differences between men and women which also play out in the work world.  The present column focuses on the gender differences of labor force   participation rates.  As previously noted, labor force participation rates in Jerusalem are lower than the national average (58% compared with 71%), primarily owing to the low participation rates among Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox men and Arab women.  The labor force  participation rate of the Jewish male population was 59% in Jerusalem compared with 75% in Israel.  Among the Arab male population the situation was reversed: their labor force participation rates were higher in Jerusalem than their national average (78% compared with 75%).  As for women, what can be said?
Women’s labor force participation rates were lower in Jerusalem than in Israel, among both the Jewish and Arab populations.  In 2009, the labor force participation rate for Jewish women was 68% in Jerusalem compared with 75% nationally; for Arab women the rate was 15% in Jerusalem compared with 26%.    
On the other hand, labor force participation rates of Jewish women in Jerusalem outstrip Jewish men (68% versus 59%), which can again be pinned to the low participation rate of ultra-orthodox men.  In Israel, the labor force participation rate of Jewish women was similar to Jewish Men. It is worthwhile to note that the labor force participation rate of Jewish women in Tel Aviv was only slightly lower than the rate for Jewish men (79% compared with 82%), and similarly in Haifa, the comparison was 76% to 78%, respectively.