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Demographic Avant-Garde

Jews in Bohemia between the Enlightenment and the Soah

Jana Vobecka

Publication Year: 2013

This book elucidates what made the Jews in Bohemia (the historic name for the western part of the Czech lands) forerunners of the demographic transition. It examines demographic data from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century, and looks for what made Bohemian Jews’ data distinct from the trends observed in the gentile community and among Jews elsewhere. The unique demographic behavior started when Jews were still living in segregated ghettos. From the 18th century onwards, Bohemian Jews developed patterns of decreasing mortality and fertility that were not observed among the gentile majority.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title page

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p. 4-4

Copyright page

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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-xii

List of Figures

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Preface and Acknowledgements, Note on Place Names

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pp. xv-xxiv

This book studies the unique demographic behavior of Jews in Bohemia, 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 segregated ghettos. Very early on, from the eighteenth century onwards, Jews developed patterns of decreasing mortality and fertility ...

Part 1. The Concept of a Demographic Avant-Garde: Three Keys

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pp. 1-2

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Chapter 1. Population Change, Demographic Transition and Its Forerunners

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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 ...

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Chapter 2. Historical Context: The Case of Jews in Bohemia

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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, ...

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Chapter 3. Data Sources: Correct Use and Interpretation

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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. ...

Part 2. Jewish Population Development in Bohemia: Trends and Transitions from the Mid-Eighteenth to the Mid-Twentieth Century

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pp. 41-42

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Chapter 4. Population Growth and Spatial Distribution

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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. ...

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Chapter 5. Population Structure: Sex, Age, and Marital Status

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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, ...

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Chapter 6. Marital Patterns: Nuptiality and Divorce

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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: ...

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Chapter 7. Fertility

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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). ...

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Chapter 8. Mortality and Causes of Death

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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. ...

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Chapter 9. Natural Population Increase, Migration, Religious Disaffiliation, and Acculturation

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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, ...

Part 3. Social and Economic Characteristics of Jews in Bohemia

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pp. 125-126

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Chapter 10. Linguistic Identity and Ethnicity

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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 ...

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Chapter 11. Education System and Enrolment

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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), ...

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Chapter 12. Social Status, Professional Structure, and Economic Contributions

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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. ...

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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 as forerunners of the demographic transition, and have discussed the timing and circumstances of demographic changes in this population, ...

List of References and Data Sources

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pp. 165-172


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pp. 173-222

Index of Names and Concepts

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pp. 223-225

Back cover

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p. 251-251

E-ISBN-13: 9786155225451
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155225338

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: Tables, charts, maps
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: first