Demographic Avant-Garde

Demographic Avant-Garde: Jews in Bohemia between the Enlightenment and the Shoah

Jana Vobecká
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Demographic Avant-Garde
    Book Description:

    This book studies the unique demographic behavior of Jews in Bohemia (the historic part of the Czech Republic), starting from a moment in history when industrialization in Central Europe was still far away in the future, and when Jews were still living legally restricted lives in ghettos. Very early on, however, from the 18th century onwards, Jews developed patterns of decreasing mortality and fertility that was not observed among the gentile majority in Bohemia; patterns which established them as a demographic avant-garde population in all of Europe.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-45-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. A Note on Place Names
    (pp. xxi-xxi)
  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xxii-xxiv)
  8. Part 1. The Concept of a Demographic Avant-Garde:: Three Keys
    • Chapter 1 Population Change, Demographic Transition, and Its Forerunners
      (pp. 3-14)

      This book spans the long period between the middle of the eighteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth. Throughout Europe, this was a time when modern society was taking shape and when the absolutism, centralized governance, and feudalism of the early modern era were in decline and the early stages of capitalism and industrialization were under way. It was a period marked by political revolutions that resulted in the establishment of universal civil rights and the advancement of technological progress, social mobility, and institutional change. These political and macro-economic changes affected the wellbeing, status, lifestyle, and aspirations...

    • Chapter 2 Historical Context: The Case of Jews in Bohemia
      (pp. 15-32)

      This chapter offers an outline of the key historical facts of the existence of the Jewish community in Bohemia from its earliest history to the present day. Although a historical account of Jews in Bohemia is not the main aim of this book, it plays an important role in it. Knowledge of the historical, legal, and social context of any population, and the Jewish one in particular, is key to understanding the timing and progression of its changes. Moreover, without historical knowledge we could hardly search for causes of population changes, nor would we be able to discuss what made...

    • Chapter 3 Data Sources: Correct Use and Interpretation
      (pp. 33-40)

      There are two types of data on population development: one that characterizes population stocks and includes population counts and structures, and another that relates to population dynamics, that is, natality, mortality, nuptiality, divorce, and migration. The first is usually obtained from population censuses; the second from vital statistics. The data sources I work with in this book are drawn mainly from censuses and vital statistics published by Austrian and Czechoslovak statistical offices. This means that I am working mainly with aggregated data on population stocks and change, and not primarily with archival materials such as population registers or original lists...

  9. Part 2. Jewish Population Development in Bohemia:: Trends and Transitions from the Mid-Eighteenth to the Mid-Twentieth Century
    • Chapter 4 Population Growth and Spatial Distribution
      (pp. 43-56)

      An analysis of Jewish population development forms the core of this book. This part presents a detailed analysis of population size, spatial distribution, age, sex, and marital structure, nuptiality, divorce, fertility, mortality, and causes of death, natural increase, and migration of the Jewish population in Bohemia. It does so over a time span of two centuries, from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. This approach makes it possible not only to describe concrete changes in population development but also to track the progress of the demographic transition. The population development of Jews in Bohemia is presented in comparison with the...

    • Chapter 5 Population Structure: Sex, Age, and Marital Status
      (pp. 57-66)

      An analysis of the population structure by sex, age, and marital status is essential to any deeper insight into the development of demographic processes. This chapter examines the dramatic change in the Jewish age structure from expanding to contracting and the changes in the marital structure, all of which occurred within just a few decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

      Data sources:

      The 1762–1768 censuses: These sources contain data on the Jewish population in Bohemia by sex and age (Source: Sekera 1978). These data can only be taken as rough indicators because little is known about...

    • Chapter 6 Marital Patterns: Nuptiality and Divorce
      (pp. 67-76)

      Changes in nuptiality are usually an indicator of shifting value orientations in the population that subsequently affect and alter fertility.¹ Traditionally the typical Jewish marriage patterns included:

      Almost exclusively endogamous marriages (where both partners were of Jewish faith). In many lands, Bohemia included, the tendency towards endogamous marriage was reinforced by the existence of restrictive provisions that prohibited marriage between Jews and Christians.

      Marriage was essentially a universal affair; it was unusual for any Jew to remain single for life. This custom was complicated in Bohemia by the Familiant Law, which remained in force from 1726 to 1849, and which...

    • Chapter 7 Fertility
      (pp. 77-96)

      The fertility of the Jewish population around the turn of the twentieth century has been the subject of much study. The interest of many analyses has been the low fertility rate of Jews in the modern period, compared both to the non-Jewish population and to the high fertility that Jews likely had in pre-modern times (e.g., Ritterband 1981, Bachi 1976). In-depth research into this issue has thus far been encumbered by the shortage of applicable data. Most ideas about Jewish fertility in pre-modern times have been deduced from the demographic behavior of Eastern European Jews in the late nineteenth century,...

    • Chapter 8 Mortality and Causes of Death
      (pp. 97-110)

      High mortality and high fertility was a reproduction mix that held population growth close to zero in the past. Most children did not survive into adulthood due to a lack of adequate care or harsh external conditions. Thus turned the wheel of high fertility and mortality regime for many centuries. There is little reliable evidence of what Jewish mortality patterns were like before the end of the eighteenth century. In 1787, Giuseppe Toaldo, a professor at the University of Padua, published a series of life tables comparing urban, rural, and mountain populations, and friars, nuns, and Jews in the Venetian...

    • Chapter 9 Natural Population Increase, Migration, Religious Disaffiliation, and Acculturation
      (pp. 111-124)

      The dynamic component of demographic events and the static component of population stocks are the data that make up the picture of population change. The former consists of events usually reported yearly: births, deaths, and in- and out-migration. When studying demographic changes affecting a religious minority, it is also necessary to include religious conversions into and out of the respective religion. The static component consists of population size and structure, usually measured in censuses. Assuming we have absolutely accurate data on both population dynamics and stocks, the population count at timex+1would perfectly match the count at timex...

  10. Part 3. Social and Economic Characteristics of Jews in Bohemia
    • Chapter 10 Linguistic Identity and Ethnicity
      (pp. 127-134)

      The social environment in which a population lives has a significant influence on its demographic reproduction, and this is especially true of minority populations. How open a minority is to the majority population, or, conversely, shut off from it, and how fully the minority is able to participate in the life of society as a whole are important determiners of the extent to which their cultural distinctiveness and specific demographic behavior is reproduced.

      The Jewish minority in Europe was traditionally a segregated population living for many centuries in physical and spiritual ghettos, the walls of which could be breached only...

    • Chapter 11 Structure of the Education System and Enrolment
      (pp. 135-144)

      Education is often cited as a precondition for technological advancement and the growth of domestic wealth (Cohen 1996, Goldin and Katz 2009). However, not every type of education has those effects. The content of education conducive to economic growth is that of a secular and rationalistic type (Easterlin 1981), and therefore it was not by chance that a spread of this type of education in Europe started in the era of Enlightenment and early industrialization. In demography education is a well-known factor that differentiates fertility and mortality levels. People with higher educational attainment have a higher life expectancy and women...

    • Chapter 12 Social Status, Professional Structure, and Economic Contributions
      (pp. 145-154)

      What did the professional structure of the Jewish population look like and how did it change over time? Why was it distinct from that of the non-Jewish population? In what way was it similar to or different from the professional structure of Jewish populations in neighboring countries? These are the questions this chapter seeks to answer.

      Even in the modern era, the professional choices of the Jewish population were largely path-dependent and influenced by earlier historical circumstances. In the twelfth century restrictions were placed on what kinds of professions Jews could practice, and although these limitations varied over time, the...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-164)

    This book has analyzed population dynamics in transition in the context of modernization and the interaction between the social, economic, legal, and political environments. I have studied Bohemian Jews asforerunnersof the demographic transition, and have discussed the timing and circumstances of demographic changes in this population, which was among the first in European history to consciously limit its fertility. How did Bohemian Jews become a demographic transition forerunner, when did it happen, and what were the triggers? This book has mapped the manifold demographic changes among Jews in Bohemia from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Whereas the...

  12. List of References and Data Sources
    (pp. 165-172)
  13. List of Appendices
    (pp. 173-222)
  14. Index of Names and Concepts
    (pp. 223-225)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 226-226)