IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/bos/iedwpr/dp-124.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

From Farmers to Merchants: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish Economic History

Author

Listed:
  • Maristella Botticini

    () (Institute for Economic Development, Boston University)

  • Zvi Eckstein

    () (Tel Avive University)

Abstract

Since the Middle Ages the Jews have been engaged primarily in urban, skilled occupations, such as crafts, trade, finance and medicine. This distinctive occupational selection occurred between the seventh and the ninth centuries in the Muslim Empire and spread to other locations. We argue that this transition was the outcome of the widespread literacy among Jews prompted by an educational reform in the first century CE. Based on the growing nexus between education and Judaism in the first half of the millennium, we build a model in which Jewish men choose education, occupation, religion and location. The model predicts that when urbanization expands (as it did in the Muslim Empire), Jews move to new cities due to their comparative advantage in urban, skilled occupations. Furthermore, before urbanization a proportion of Jewish farmers are predicted to convert to other religions. The predictions of the model regarding conversions, migrations and reduction in the size of the Jewish population are consistent with historical evidence from the first millennium provided by historians. Hence, our study presents evidence for the long-term economic implications of changes in social norms.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-124
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.bu.edu/econ/ied/dp/papers/dp124.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
    2. 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 525-548, June.
    3. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
    4. 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 253-275, January.
    5. George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 2006. "Social Assets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1057-1091, November.
      • George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 2002. "Social Assets," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 05 Jan 2006.
      • George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 2002. "Social Assets," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 04 Jun 2004.
    6. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 279-288, Part II, .
    7. 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.
    8. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1979_34n1_0025 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    10. Ayal, Eliezer B & Chiswick, Barry R, 1983. "The Economics of the Diaspora Revisited," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(4), pages 861-875, July.
    11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2004. "Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 10481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-291, April.
    13. 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.
    14. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
    15. Hanming Fang, 2001. "Social Culture and Economic Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 924-937, September.
    16. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    17. Barry R. Chiswick, 1988. "Differences in Education and Earnings Across Racial and Ethnic Groups: Tastes, Discrimination, and Investments in Child Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 571-597.
    18. Rapoport, Hillel & Weiss, Avi, 2002. "In-Group Cooperation in a Hostile Environment: An Economic Perspective on Some Aspects of Jewish Life in (Pre-Modern) Diaspora," IZA Discussion Papers 483, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    20. Robert J. Barro & Rachel McCleary, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, Second Edition," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1.
    22. 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 517-534, April.
    23. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
    2. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "Long-Term Economic Growth and the History of Technology," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 1113-1180 Elsevier.

    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-124. 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: (Program Coordinator). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/decbuus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.