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Title:Jewish Occupational Selection : Education, Restrictions, or Minorities? PDF Logo
Authors:Botticini, Maristella
Eckstein, Zvi
Issue Date:2004
Series/Report no.:IZA Discussion paper series 1224
Abstract:This paper documents the major features of Jewish economic history in the first millennium to explain the distinctive occupational selection of the Jewish people into urban, skilled occupations. We show that many Jews entered urban occupations in the eighth-ninth centuries in the Muslim Empire when there were no restrictions on their economic activities, most of them were farmers, and they were a minority in all locations. Therefore, arguments based on restrictions or minority status cannot explain the occupational transition of the Jews at that time. Our thesis is that the occupational selection of the Jews was the outcome of the widespread literacy prompted by a religious and educational reform in the first century ce, which was implemented in the third to the eighth century. We present detailed information on the implementation of this religious and educational reform in Judaism based on the Talmud, archeological evidence on synagogues, the Cairo Geniza documents, and the Responsa literature. We also provide evidence of the economic returns to Jewish religious literacy.
Subjects:first millennium
human capital
Jewish economic history
migration
occupational choice
religion and social norms
JEL:O10
J10
N30
J20
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:IZA Discussion Papers, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA)

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