Pourquoi les Juifs réussissent-ils si bien ?

WASHINGTON – Les économistes ont quelques difficultés pour utiliser le concept de capital humain, souvent décrit comme l’ensemble des capacités, des compétences, des savoirs et des dispositions garant du succès économique. Ceux qui utilisent ce terme considèrent pourtant que la conceptualisation d’un phénomène ouvre la voie à sa manipulation. ‘La politique du capital humain’ est en effet très à la mode par les temps qui courent. Mais qu’en est-il lorsque les nombreuses capacités et dispositions en question sont le produit de l’histoire, susceptibles donc d’être comprises et expliquées, mais par forcément reproduites ?

Simon Kuznets, l’un des grands économistes du vingtième siècle, fut un pionnier de la théorie du capital humain. Peu de temps avant sa mort, Kuznets recommandait à un jeune collègue l’étude du rôle des Juifs dans la vie économique.

Les économistes et les sociologues ont généralement négligé l’histoire des Juifs et du capitalisme pour des raisons compréhensibles - mais peu convaincantes. Pour la plupart des économistes, le fait que des prédispositions culturelles antérieures puissent avoir eu une influence sur le capitalisme moderne est au mieux une source d’étonnement et surtout un facteur insignifiant.

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