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Jewish emancipation and schism: Economic development and religious change

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  • Carvalho, Jean-Paul
  • Koyama, Mark

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of Jewish Emancipation and economic development on Jewish religious culture in 19th century Europe. In Germany, a liberal Reform movement developed in response to emancipation, while Ultra-Orthodox Judaism emerged in eastern Europe. We develop a historical narrative and model of religious organization that accounts for the polarized responses by Jewish communities. Our explanation is based on a tradeoff between time and money contributions. A religious organization chooses between a relatively affluent community that expends little effort on religious participation and a poorer community that devotes a large amount of time and effort to religious activity. Political and economic development shape this tradeoff in unexpected ways, leading to complex forms of behavior such as religious schisms and cycles. When preferences are transmitted intergenerationally, organizations tend to be more conservative. Our historical narrative points to further extensions of extant models of religion, as well as providing broader insights into cultural integration and religious change.

Suggested Citation

  • Carvalho, Jean-Paul & Koyama, Mark, 2016. "Jewish emancipation and schism: Economic development and religious change," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 562-584.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:44:y:2016:i:3:p:562-584
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2016.06.002
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