From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversions and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History
AbstractFrom 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 InfoIf 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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5571.
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
Other versions of this item:
- Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2006. "From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversion and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 2, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
- Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2006. "From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversions and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History," CEPR Discussion Papers 6006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
- J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
- O1 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
- Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-04-08 (All new papers)
- NEP-CWA-2006-04-08 (Central & Western Asia)
- NEP-HIS-2006-04-08 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-SOC-2006-04-08 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
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.:
- repec:iza:izadps:dp483 is not listed on IDEAS
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- The myth of the Protestant work ethic
by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2007-02-05 16:23:59
- Some benefits of religion
by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-02-10 13:54:16
- Romero-Medina, Antonio & Triossi, Matteo, .
"Games of capacities : a (close) look to Nash Equilibria,"
Open Access publications from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
info:hdl:10016/929, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
- Antonio Romero-Medina & Matteo Triossi, 2007. "Games of Capacities: A (Close) Look to Nash Equilibria," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 52, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
- Antonio Romero-Medina & Matteo Triossi, 2011. "Games with capacity manipulation : incentives and Nash equilibria," Economics Working Papers we1125, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
- 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.
- Antonio Romero-Medina & Matteo Triossi, 2011. "Games with Capacity Manipulation: Incentives and Nash Equilibria," Documentos de Trabajo 280, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
- 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.
- Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2006.
"Path Dependence and Occupations,"
Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series
DP-154, Boston University - Department of Economics.
- Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007.
"Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History,"
Discussion Papers in Economics
1366, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Becker, Sascha O. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," IZA Discussion Papers 2886, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," CESifo Working Paper Series 1987, CESifo Group Munich.
- Gradstein, Mark, 2008. "Endogenous Reversals of Fortune," IZA Discussion Papers 3469, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Iyigun, Murat, 2006. "Ottoman Conquests and European Ecclesiastical Pluralism," IZA Discussion Papers 1973, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2008.
"The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity: Theory and Evidence,"
11531, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- 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.
- Iyigun, Murat, 2008. "Lessons from the Ottoman Harem (On Ethnicity, Religion and War)," IZA Discussion Papers 3556, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Iyigun, Murat, 2007. "Monotheism (From a Sociopolitical and Economic Perspective)," IZA Discussion Papers 3116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- User:Cyborg Ninja/sandbox in Wikipedia (English)
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.