The migration balance – the number of people moving into a city minus the number of people moving out of that same city – is considered an important indicator of a city’s attractiveness. This index is calculated and published every year on Jerusalem Day and usually receives great attention in the media, despite the fact that the migration balance in Jerusalem has not changed dramatically over the last 20 years, and is usually between -5,000 and -7,000. This balance is the difference between some 10,000 residents who move to the city every year minus the 15,000 to 17,000 residents who leave the city every year.
In 2016, 10,300 people moved into Jerusalem and 18,100 left the city, which means the migration balance was -7,800.
From our examinations of migration balance statistics from other large Israeli cities, we discovered a trend that might seem obvious: The more construction going on in a city, the more positive (or less negative) the migration balance is. This is despite the fact that each city has a different level of natural increase, as well as different numbers of immigrants and tourists moving in. On average, for every housing unit that is built in Israel’s large cities (over 75,000 residents), the migration balance rises by 3.1 individuals.
The novelty of this examination is that it incorporates data gathered over a number of years, because it takes time from the moment a housing unit has been completed until the moment the new family moves in and registers their new address at the Interior Ministry. The more data that are collected over a number of years, the greater the correlation between construction and immigration.
In the five years that were examined, 2012 to 2016, it appears that there are two types of cities: cities that underwent extensive construction, at a rate of seven to 9.5 housing units per 1,000 residents, and cities that experienced less construction, at a rate of up six housing units or fewer per 1,000 residents. All of the cities in the first category without exception experienced a positive migration balance; for all but one (Netanya) the balances were high, at seven or more individuals per 1,000 city residents.
Most of the cities (14 out of 21) fall in the second category, in which there was less construction. All of these cities, without exception, had a negative migration balance. This category also includes cities that in the past were magnets for massive numbers of new residents, such as Rishon Lezion and Modi'in-Maccabim-Reut.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.