Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversion and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History

Contents:

Author Info

  • Maristella Botticini
  • Zvi Eckstein

Abstract

From the end of the second century C.E., Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring any Jewish father to educate his children. We present evidence supporting our thesis that this exogenous change in the religious and social norm had a major influence on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies (2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions, which account for a large share of the reduction in the size of the Jewish population from about 4.5 million to 1.2 million. Second, the Jewish farmers who invested in education, gained the comparative advantage and incentive to enter skilled occupations during the vast urbanization in the newly developed Muslim Empire (7th and 8th centuries) and they actually did select themselves into these occupations. Third, as merchants the Jews invested even more in education–a pre-condition for the extensive mailing network and common court system that endowed them with trading skills demanded all over the world. Fourth, the Jews generated a voluntary diaspora by migrating within the Muslim Empire, and later to western Europe where they were invited to settle as high skill intermediaries by local rulers. By 1200, the Jews were living in hundreds of towns from England and Spain in the West to China and India in the East. Fifth, the majority of world Jewry (about one million) lived in the Near East when the Mongol invasions in the 1250s brought this region back to a subsistence farming economy in which many Jews found it difficult to enforce the religious norm regarding education, and hence, voluntarily converted, exactly as it had happened centuries earlier.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.carloalberto.org/assets/working-papers/no.2.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 2.

as in new window
Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:2

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Via Real Collegio, 30, 10024 Moncalieri (To)
Phone: +390116705000
Fax: +390116476847
Email:
Web page: http://www.carloalberto.org/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: social norms; religion; human capital; Jewish economic and demographic history; occupational choice; migration.;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  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. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 41-, March.
  4. repec:iza:izadps:dp483 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The myth of the Protestant work ethic
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2007-02-05 16:23:59
  2. Some benefits of religion
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-02-10 13:54:16
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2006. "Path Dependence and Occupations," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 3, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  2. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596, May.
  3. Maria Saez-Marti & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2008. "Preferences as Human Capital: Rational Choice Theories of Endogenous Preferences and Socioeconomic Changes," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 81-94, Autumn.
  4. Iyigun, Murat, 2006. "Ottoman Conquests and European Ecclesiastical Pluralism," IZA Discussion Papers 1973, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Antonio Romero Medina & Mateo Triossi, 2007. "Games of capacities : a (close) look to Nash Equilibria," Economics Working Papers we075933, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2008. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity: Theory and Evidence," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0725, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  7. Gradstein, Mark, 2008. "Endogenous Reversals of Fortune," IZA Discussion Papers 3469, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Iyigun, Murat, 2008. "Lessons from the Ottoman Harem (On Ethnicity, Religion and War)," IZA Discussion Papers 3556, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Iyigun, Murat, 2007. "Monotheism (From a Sociopolitical and Economic Perspective)," IZA Discussion Papers 3116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

Lists

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
  1. User:Cyborg Ninja/sandbox in Wikipedia (English)

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Giovanni Bert).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.