Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100-1800
59 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013 Last revised: 2 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 30, 2013
What factors caused the persecution of minorities in medieval and early modern Europe? We build a model that predicts that minority communities were more likely to be expropriated in the wake of negative income shocks. Using panel data consisting of 1,366 city-level persecutions of Jews from 936 European cities between 1100 and 1800, we test whether persecutions were more likely in colder growing seasons. A one standard deviation decrease in average growing season temperature increased the probability of a persecution between one-half and one percentage points (relative to a baseline probability of two percent). This effect was strongest in regions with poor soil quality or located within weak states. We argue that long-run decline in violence against Jews between 1500 and 1800 is partly attributable to increases in fiscal and legal capacity across many European states.
Keywords: Political Economy, State Capacity, Expulsions, Jewish History, Climate
JEL Classification: N33, N43, Z12, J15, N53
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