Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks


Originally published in The Economic Journal

What factors caused the persecution of minorities in pre-modern Europe? Using panel data consisting of 1,366 persecutions of Jews from 936 European cities between 1100 and 1800, we test whether persecutions were more likely following colder growing seasons. A one standard deviation decrease in growing season temperature in the previous five-year period increased the probability of a persecution by between 1 and 1.5 percentage points (relative to a baseline of 2%). This effect was strongest in weak states and with poor quality soil. The long-run decline in persecutions was partly attributable to greater market integration and state capacity.


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