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In-Group Cooperation in a Hostile Environment: An Economic Perspective on Some Aspects of Jewish Life in (Pre-Modern) Diaspora

28 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2002  

Hillel Rapoport

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics; Stanford University

Avi Weiss

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics; Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2002

Abstract

The demographic history of the Jews in the Middle Ages may be characterized by two main phenomena: i) a sharp drop in the number of Jews until the beginning of the modern period, due mainly to conversions; and, ii) early urbanization. Until now, these features have been analyzed as primarily resulting from persecution and restrictions initiated by the political and religious authorities in the host countries. Economic historians have recently proposed an explanation based on mandatory education in the Jewish tradition (Botticini and Eckstein, 2001). We propose a supplementary explanation based on the incentives to switch affiliation and/or location in a dual environment, where potential gains from in-group cooperation for the Jewish minority may well be offset by losses due to intergroup hostility. Our model generates the two results described above (i.e., a decrease in the total number of Jews, and their concentration in urban areas), without having to rely either on discrimination policies or on investment in human capital, as in previous research.

Keywords: Economic History of the Jews, Ethnic Minorities, Cooperation, Altruism, Hostility

JEL Classification: D64, J15, J61

Suggested Citation

Rapoport, Hillel and Weiss, Avi, In-Group Cooperation in a Hostile Environment: An Economic Perspective on Some Aspects of Jewish Life in (Pre-Modern) Diaspora (April 2002). IZA Discussion Paper No. 483. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=310373

Hillel Rapoport

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ramat-Gan, 52900
Israel
+972 3 535 3180 (Fax)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Avi Weiss (Contact Author)

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ramat-Gan, 52900
Israel
+972 3 531 8934 (Phone)
+972 3 535 3180 (Fax)

Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel ( email )

15 Ha'ari Street
Jerusalem
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://taubcenter.org.il/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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