Shoresh Institution


The opportunity of calamity

When unsustainable long-term trajectories hit brick walls


Israel’s healthcare situation epitomizes a tidal wave that Shoresh Institution researchers have been studying for years.  It is one of several imminent tidal waves – some potentially existential – that having been steadily approaching Israel’s shores for decades.


The Shoresh Institution was established five years ago for the sole purpose of ringing a wake-up call about the root (shoresh, hence the name of the institution) socioeconomic challenges that Israel faces. 


The combination of a continuous fall (since the 1970s) in the number of hospital beds per capita,



one of the highest hospital occupancy rates in the developed world,


the number of nurses per capita among the lowest in the West



– with the number of annual nursing graduates per capita in the pipeline near the bottom of the developed world –



should have long ago alerted the government and public as to the grave extent of the health system’s neglect.


It is no coincidence that Israel’s mortality rate from infectious diseases doubled during the past two decades.



As a result, Israel is perched far above every other OECD country, 73% above the country ranked  second. This death rate from infectious diseases is 12 to 15 times the number of persons killed each year in traffic accidents – and this was the state of affairs before the onset of the coronavirus.



A country with nearly empty stockpiles at the onset of an attack by a foreign enemy – this time, a virus, as opposed to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War – the huge cost due to the lack of degrees of freedom for adequately confronting the threat should not come as a surprise.  Imagine if there were more physicians, nurses, beds and necessary equipment alongside the ability to test, diagnose and sample at a much swifter pace and considerably wider scope . Our understanding of the current situation would be much clearer, as would our ability to deal with it with greater accuracy and effectiveness.  The flood would have come in any event, but its cost could have been considerably lower.


Below are three publications that Shoresh published over the years, outlining the magnitude of the healthcare tidal wave and cautioning about its approach:


1.     Already in 2015, Shoresh released a Handbook presenting the root challenges facing Israel, with a special emphasis on the healthcare system on pages 42-46.


2.     Three years ago, in April 2017, Shoresh published a policy brief, “Longer lives and exasperated patients – Israel's health system doing it the hard way,” The title speaks for itself.


3.     In May 2017, Shoresh was asked by the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare a policy brief, “Israel’s primary socioeconomic challenges and policy areas requiring core treatment.”  Pages 12-14 focus on extraordinary failures (compared to developed countries and compared to Israel in the past) of the healthcare system.


The serial neglect of the national healthcare system is just one aspect of the long run trajectory that Israel is situated on.


But calamities also present opportunities.  Significant changes in a nation’s national priorities, which are not politically feasible during normal times, become possible when an unsustainable trajectory hits the wall.  Some of the challenges detailed in the above publications face a democratic-demographic point of no return.


It is possible for Israel to conduct things differently.  This is an historic opportunity to recognize, understand and internalize the need for a major pivot in the country’s national priorities.


Prof. Dan Ben-David

President, Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research





The Shoresh Institution’s most recent publications


Doing (learning) the math in Israel - Conflicting demographic trends and the core curriculum

Prof. Dan Ben-David

November 2019


Leaving the Promised Land – A look at Israel’s emigration challenge

Prof. Dan Ben-David

May 2019


Two Wars and Demography – A Long Run View of Israel’s Recent Elections

Prof. Dan Ben-David

May 2019


Shoresh publications are divided into three groups:


Policy Briefs

Policy Papers



Mission statement


The Shoresh Institution is an independent, non-partisan policy research center.  The institution conducts impartial, evidence-based analyses of Israel’s economy and civil society.  Its objective is to assist in moving the country towards a sustainable long-term trajectory that raises Israel’s living standards while reducing disparity among its citizens.  To further this goal, the Shoresh Institution informs Israel’s leading policymakers and the general public, both inside and outside the country, through briefings and accessible publications on the source, nature and scope of core issues facing the country, providing policy options that ensure and improve the well-being of all segments of Israeli society and create more equitable opportunities for its citizens.



Contact us:


      Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research

      Department of Public Policy

      Tel-Aviv University

      Tel-Aviv  ISRAEL 69978