Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100–1800


  • We are grateful to Megan Teague and Michael Szpindor Watson for research assistance. We benefited from comments from Martin Cripps, four anonymous referees as well as Ran Abramitzky, Daron Acemoglu, Quamrul Ashraf, Dean Phillip Bell, Pete Boettke, Tyler Cowen, Carmel Chiswick, Melissa Dell, Dan Bogart, Markus Eberhart, James Fenske, Joe Ferrie, Raphäel Franck, Oded Galor, Avner Greif, Philip Hoffman, Larry Iannaccone, Remi Jedwab, Garett Jones, James Kai-sing Kung, Pete Leeson, Yannay Spitzer, Stelios Michalopoulos, Naomi Lamoreaux, Jason Long, David Mitch, Joel Mokyr, Johanna Mollerstrom, Robin Mundill, Steven Nafziger, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Jared Rubin, Gail Triner, John Wallis, Eugene White, Larry White and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. We thank seminar participants at Chapman University, George Mason University, King's College, London, Stanford University, the Elliott School for International Affairs, the 2013 All UC Conference, the Clio World Congress at the University of Hawaii, Rutgers University, Northwestern University, the Conference on Diversity and Culture sponsored by HSE, Moscow, the Deep Determinants of Economic Growth Conference at Brown and Colby College. All remaining errors are the fault of the authors. We are grateful to Jane Perry for proof-reading the article.


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.