June 1, 2015
This is the story of Aharon Ya'akov Dukhan, a Jewish-Russian frontier man whose life spanned the second half of the nineteenth century. In Pale in Comparison, a paper that I am currently developing, I argue that even in as late a period as the one in which Aharon Ya'akov was active, Jews were, in a certain economic sense, countryside people. The rural frontier was an integral part of the ecology that defined the economic and demographic aspects of Jewish lives in the Pale of Settlement. Dukhan embodied the experience of the Jewish frontier, and his path exemplifies several of the empirical regularities that I find in the paper.
November 5, 2014
Are migrants positively or negatively self-selected from within their populations of origin? Ariell Zimran and I study this question by collecting data on the heights of Italian passengers arriving in Ellis Island between 1907 and 1925, matching them to their places of origins, and comparing their heights to that of their cohorts of origin.
April 10, 2014
Were Jewish immigrants from the Pale of Settlement to the United States really driven by pogroms? This is a question with which I deal empirically, using data on migration and on events of anti-Jewish violence. But before zooming out to the large statistical picture, it is important to verify anecdotally that one can find particular cases in which pogrom-driven migration did clearly occur. For this, I chose to dwell into a case study of a single Jewish town–Kalarash–that experienced a rather gruesome pogrom in October [o.s.] 1905. In this rather extreme case, I show here that indeed there was such a thing as pogrom-driven migration. That is, the pogrom was so devastating that the data shows without doubt that many Jews of Kalarash that would not have immigrated otherwise, were driven out by it in search of a safe haven in a new land. This is how it looked.
September 30, 2012
What were the occupations and trades the Jews were holding in the old country? The 1897 census of the Russian Empire tells us a lot about that, and in great detail. The summary data have been studied in the past, and the major facts are well known by historians. Based on my work on this census I present here the basics, for those who are less familiar with the case, and I also add a few of the interesting insights that come out of studying the more detailed data that I have recently coded from the census. The purpose is to expose the data and some of the patterns that it shows, and thus the discussion is more descriptive rather than interpretative.
July 22, 2012
This map shows the precise place of residence of over 4.3 million Jews at the time of the Russian census of 1897. The census enumerated over 5 million Jews living in the Pale of Settlement, the 25 western provinces of the Russian Empire in which Jews were generally free to reside. Together with the Jewish communities that existed beyond the boundaries of the Pale, the Russian Empire was home to some 5.3 million Jews, more than half of world Jewry. It is the best source of statistical information on this population, and probably on any other large Jewish concentration prior to WWII. The map represents a new database that was recently created by Gennady Polonetsky and I, mainly from figures published in the 1897 census. It is posted here, along with a few notes, in order to make this visualization of the patterns of Jewish settlement in the Russian Empire available to the interested readers. Other pieces of analysis pertaining to this database will be posted soon.