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Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death

Remi Jedwab (), Mark Koyama () and Noel Johnson
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Noel Johnson: George Mason University

Working Papers from The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy

Abstract: In this paper we study the Black Death persecutions (1347-1352) against Jews in order to shed light on the factors determining when a minority group will face persecution. We develop a theoretical framework which predicts that negative shocks increase the likelihood that minorities are scapegoated and persecuted. By contrast, as the shocks become more severe, persecution probability may actually decrease if there are eco- nomic complementarities between the majority and minority groups. We compile city- level data on Black Death mortality and Jewish persecution. At an aggregate level we find that scapegoating led to an increase in the baseline probability of a persecution. However, at the city-level, locations which experienced higher plague mortality rates were less likely to engage in persecutions. Furthermore, persecutions were more likely in cities with a history of antisemitism (consistent with scapegoating) and less likely in cities where Jews played an important economic role (consistent with inter-group complementarities).

Keywords: Ethnic Conflict; Religious Conflict; Minorities; Persecutions; Massacres; Libels; Black Death; Jewish Economic History; Middle Ages; Epidemics; Cities; Trade (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J15 D74 Z12 N33 N43 O1 R1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-ure
Date: 2017-04
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