This paper explores the possibility that the witchcraft trials are a large-scale example of violence and scapegoating prompted by a deterioration in economic conditions. In this case, the downturn was brought on by a decrease in temperature and resulting food shortages. The most active period of the witchcraft trials coincides with a period of lower than average temperature known to climatologists as the “little ice age.” The colder temperatures increased the frequency of crop failure, and colder seas prevented cod and other fish from migrating as far north, eliminating this vital food source for some northern areas of Europe (Fagan, 2000).On witch hunting -- here's a documentation of my visit to Salem, Mass. A place famous (or notorious) for the 17th century witch hunt hysteria.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The economics of witchcraft
A cute paper by Emily Oster (a former TA of my Econometric class at Harvard, now at Chicago), published when she was a student. An excerpt from the paper: