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What Made Jews a Demographic Avant-Garde in Modern Europe?

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Chapter Summary

Jews in Bohemia were the forerunners of the demographic transition in Europe, and this chapter brings the main evidence and arguments for that claim. It derives from a detailed analysis of aggregate demographic data of Jews and gentiles in Bohemia between the mid-eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries that is presented in the book, Demographic Avant-Garde. The chapter firstly presents the key findings on trends in fertility, mortality and migration, as well as change in size and structure of the Jewish population in Bohemia. Second, it highlights the evidence of the early demographic transition among Jews in Bohemia and debates the potential influence of cultural, social, and political factors on early transition trends. It concludes with a discussion of the factors that might be necessary for the demographic transition to be accomplished and highlight why Jews as a religious group were particularly likely to become the forerunners of this transition.

Keywords: Bohemia; Demographic Avant-Garde; demographic transition; Europe; Jews

10.1163/9789004275065_006
/content/books/b9789004275065s006
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