Palestine Palestine

Statistical Snapshot


Long-standing occupation has had significant consequences for the living conditions of the Palestinian people and prospects for development. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the population in the Palestinian territories is estimated at 5 million by the end of 2019[1] while UNRWA estimates that 5.5 million Palestinians have been living as refugees in areas of the West Bank and Gaza and in surrounding host countries - mostly in Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (450,000) and Syria (526,000).[2][3]


According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, Palestine held the position of the 22nd least peaceful country worldwide with an economic cost of violence estimated at 13 percent of GDP in 2019.[4]


The economic and humanitarian conditions in Palestine have deteriorated since 2018, due to a contraction of the economy of Gaza by 7 percent by in 2018 and a slowdown of the West Bank’s economy from 4 to 3 percent by the end of 2018. Real GDP growth declined by 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2018, scoring the first negative rate of growth since 2015.[5] In 2019, real GDP growth hovered around 1 percent and it was projected to decrease to negative 5 percent in 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown.[6] Similarly, while PCBS estimated that GDP growth at constant prices will increase by 2.4 percent in 2020, figures were revised after the pandemic outbreak and the Palestinian economy’s losses were estimated at US$ 2.5 billion till end-May, the equivalent of a decline of 13.5 percent of GDP.[1]


In 2019, Israel deducted approximately $138 million of the Palestinian Authority’s clearance revenue[1] that constitute up to 65 percent of the total revenue of the Palestinian Government.[7] This fiscal measure was compounded by a steep decline in donor support and the fiscal deficit was estimated at 7.4 percent of GDP in 2019.[6] The Palestinian Government consequently implemented strict austerity measures, reducing salaries of public sector employees and promotional and travel expenses among others and delaying the transfer of welfare payments.[7][8]


The structure of the Palestinian economy has transformed dramatically over the last two decades. Growth has been mainly driven by the construction, retail and services sectors, while the manufacturing and agriculture sectors contracted by around 40 percent and 75 percent, respectively compared to the late 1990s. During the same period, the public service sector, mostly financed by donors, expanded by 60 percent.[5] In 2019, military expenditures in Palestine accounted for 8.2 percent of GDP.[4] GDP growth is also negatively affected by low exports — constrained by the ongoing trade restrictions and contributing to only 18 percent of GDP— high imports amounting to 55 percent of GDP and a large trade deficit at 38 percent of GDP in 2019. The structural conditions of Israeli occupation have impeded the private sector, and thus generation of sufficient jobs to absorb entrants to the labor force.[5]


Palestine suffers from alarming unemployment rates. In 2019, one in four Palestinian workers was unemployed. Unemployment is particularly high among women at 41.2 percent – compared to 21.3 percent for men[1]– and youth at 40 percent, reaching a dramatic 67 percent among female youth.[9] Unemployment prospects are much worse in Gaza, where around 41 percent of the labour force were unemployed as of 2019 compared to 18 percent in West Bank.[1] Palestinian refugees also suffer from high unemployment rates reaching 56 percent in Lebanon.[10]


According to the 2017 household survey, the poverty rate in Palestine is 29.2 percent. In Gaza, it reached 53 percent, compared to 38.8 percent in the 2011 household survey while the poverty rate in the West Bank decreased from 17.8 percent in 2011 to 13.9 percent in 2017.[1] Palestinian refugees in Lebanon lack access to health care and other forms of social security, and those living in camps face deteriorating living conditions, with a poverty rate of 66 percent.[11]


Access to food, electricity, clean water, decent education, and healthcare are all declining. In particular, Gaza’s health system cannot cope with increasing needs; Israeli authorities granted medical exit access to one in five applications after the 2018–2019 Gaza border protests.[7] By mid-2019, 2.5 million Palestinians, around half of the population, including 1.4 million Palestine refugees, needed humanitarian assistance. About 1.7 million Palestinians, or one third of all households, are severely or moderately food insecure, while in Gaza 68 percent of households are food insecure.[7][12]


In Gaza, 1.9 million people suffer from power cuts of 18-20 hours a day and only 10.5 percent of Palestinians have access to safe drinking water through the public water network. Across Palestine, over 520,000 school-age children face challenges in accessing quality education, while 70 percent of UNRWA schools and 63 percent of the Ministry of Education schools operate on a double or triple-shift system in Gaza.[12]


This overview was last updated in May 2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.



[1] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). 2020. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[2] The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2019].
[3] UN International Organization for Migration (IOM). 2019. World Migration Report 2020. ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[4] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2019. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020]
[5] The World Bank. 2019. Strengthening Fiscal Resilience and Business Environment (P164427). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[6] International Monetary Fund (IMF). April 2020. Regional Economic Outlook Middle East And Central Asia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[7] UNCTAD. July 2019. Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people: Developments in the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[8] UNCTAD. August 2019. Economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: fiscal aspects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[9] International Labor Organization. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed on 06 May 2020].
[10] United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Lebanon. 2020. Palestinian Programme. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[11] Open democracy. March 2020. What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. [ONLINE] available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].
[12] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). December 2018. 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 May 2020].


[1] Taxes that the Government of Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authorities and later transfers back to them.

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Data Highlights

  • Palestinians continue to face severe water shortages with the decline in access to improved water sources to 58.4% in 2015, down from 90.9% in 2000.

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