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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 922-948, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:04:p:922-948_00
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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