Jewish Economies (Volume 1)
Development and Migration in America and Beyond: The Economic Life of American Jewry
Nobel Laureate Simon Kuznets, famous as the founder of modern empirical economics, pioneered the quantitative study of the economic history of the Jews. Yet until now his most important work on the subject was unpublished. These volumes bring to the public, for the first time, the most important work written on Jewish economic history since that of Werner Sombart a century ago.
In the first volume, Kuznets uses extensive, original data to trace trends in the economic life of American Jews. He measures quantitatively for the first time the legendary economic success of American Jews and discusses the foundations of these achievements. Tracing their distinctive concentration in the professions, he exposes the causes of the extreme inequalities in American Jewish economic life. The immigrant origin of nearly all American Jews offers a unique case study in the process of assimilation that made American Jewry the ultimate American success story. This offers an ideal prelude to the second forthcoming volume, Comparative Perspectives on Jewish Migration.
The volume’s editors also provide a unique perspective on Kuznets’ work. In the introduction, Weyl shows that many of Kuznets’ most influential ideas, were inspired by his study of the economic history of the Jews. Through careful analysis of shared themes, and dozens of hours of detailed interviews, Lo and Weyl reveal a new dimension of Kuznets’ thought to historical inquiry.
“Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets (1901-85) was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, noted for developing the concepts and methods used to calculate important macroeconomic measurements like GNP. He was also a pathbreaking economic historian who emphasized the roles of culture, institutions, and context in understanding economic growth and development—always a "cautious empiricist" in explaining economic trends and rejecting Malthusian pessimism about the impact of population growth… The highlight of the volumes is the 40-page introduction, "Simon Kuznets, Cautious Empiricist of the Eastern European Jewish Diaspora" by E. Glen Weyl (Univ. of Chicago), which is especially valuable because so little has been published on this towering figure… Recommended.”
—R. M. Whaples, Choice (Review of both Jewish Economies Volume 1 and 2)
“[A]n important scholarly contribution. It should be required reading for specialists in the fields of economic development, human capital and history of economic thought. Weyl and Lo have contributed to the economics literature in three ways: They have collected Kuznets’ virtually forgotten writings on Jewish economic history, revealed previously unknown aspects of Kuznets’ identity and worldview, and demonstrated important parallels between Kuznets’ general and Jewish-oriented works.”
—Daniel A. Schiffman, EH.net