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Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?

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  • BOTTICINI, MARISTELLA
  • ECKSTEIN, ZVI

Abstract

Before the eighth ninth centuries CE, most Jews, like the rest of the population, were farmers. With the establishment of the Muslim Empire, almost all Jews entered urban occupations despite no restrictions prohibiting them from remaining in agriculture. This occupational selection remained their distinctive mark thereafter. Our thesis is that this transition away from agriculture into crafts and trade was the outcome of their widespread literacy prompted by a religious and educational reform in Judaism in the first and second centuries CE, which gave them a comparative advantage in urban, skilled occupations. We present evidence that supports our argument.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 65 (2005)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 922-948

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:04:p:922-948_00

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  1. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2003. "From Farmers to Merchants: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish Economic History," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-124, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  2. Temin, Peter, 1997. "Is it Kosher to Talk about Culture?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 267-287, June.
  3. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  4. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  7. Carlton, Dennis W & Weiss, Avi, 2001. "The Economics of Religion, Jewish Survival, and Jewish Attitudes toward Competition in Torah Education," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 253-75, January.
  8. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  9. Brenner, Reuven & Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1981. "The Economics of the Diaspora: Discrimination and Occupational Structure," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 517-34, April.
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  1. Converting for tax reasons
    by Chris Colvin in NEP-HIS blog on 2013-11-05 20:41:31
  2. Failure is an option
    by ssumner in The Money Illusion on 2013-12-13 15:34:57
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