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The Chosen Few by Zvi Eckstein, Maristella Botticini

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Preface

IMAGINE TWO ECONOMISTS TRAVELING BACK IN TIME AND ARRIVING IN the town of Sepphoris, in the Galilee, in the year 200. Upon entering the synagogue, they see a nine-year-old Jewish boy—the son of a farmer—reading a portion of the Torah in front of the local community. The economists, who know some stylized facts about the occupational structure and demography of the Jewish people today, wonder whether there might be a connection between what they saw in their journey back in time and the subsequent economic and demographic history of the Jews.

This research project has been a twelve-year long journey of studying and learning that began one day over a lunch conversation in the cafeteria of Boston University, during which we put ourselves ...

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