Why Being Jewish Pays

Fact: Jews make more money.

Before you rush into calling me prejudiced, hear me out. Although being Jewish and caring about wealth is a stereotype perpetuated with negative connotations, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being raised to value education, financial knowledge and family values. In fact, we can all learn from Jews.

SynagogueWhy Some Religions “Pay” More

Let’s forget about ethnicity and focus on religion. What does our religion have anything to do with wealth?

Well, it turns out – everything.

Religion shapes moral values, family values, educational values and… you guessed it – financial values. And it turns out Judaism does all of these things much more effectively than many other religions. However, before you throw bricks at me let’s consider a few things.

According to a study by Lisa Keister, at Ohio State University, Jewish people:

  • Accumulate more than twice the amount of wealth of an average individual with different religious affiliations.
  • Inherit twice as much from their families and more frequently.
  • Typically own twice as much stock.
  • Own much more valuable homes

The big question is why? I know I’m curious!

Keister proposes a very convincing answer: it’s their values, stupid! (ok, I got carried away with political catch phrases here.)

Education’s Effect on Wealth

Jews place more importance on a strong financial foundation early in their children’s lives. They invest in their children: better education, more savings, better social connections and a preference for strong community ties. Importance of building wealth is taught early and is a critical part of preparing for success. For example: on the date children come of age (Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah) parents, relatives and friends often give financial gifts, not just in money, but in investment and saving vehicles. This strong religious tradition sets a course for a child’s financial path.

Don’t take my word for it though, ask around!

Ever wonder why so many bankers, doctors and lawyers are Jewish? It’s because Jews value education. Adults establish early savings for their children and put them through the best schools money can buy. As a result, Jews earn more money in higher paying jobs, then repeat the cycle with their own children.

Alright, so they are pretended with better opportunities from early on, what else?

Jewish Investment Behavior

Since investment behavior is engraved early on in life, adulthood builds on to a strong foundation.

Fact: Jews prefer financial assets vs. real or fixed ones.

Stock ownership occurs much earlier in life than for most people. Unlike a typical investor of another religious affiliation, Jews invest in financial assets before buying a home. This is meant to create continuous cash flow and allow for ongoing investment (Rich Dad, Poor Dad ring a bell?). Full disclosure: affiliate link.

Combined with generally better incomes and better investment opportunities through developed social connections (most often from attending services), those of Judaic faith enjoy faster accumulation of wealth and more control over debt.

Other Important Wealth Factors

Keister also hypothesizes that later child bearing and more time spent on helping children develop helps establish better financial foothold for kids.

Makes sense, right?

On top of that, communal exposure to social development creates a network of trustworthy and strong ties that can help financially at a later time.

What Can We Take Away From This?

I’m not suggesting you should drop your religion and take up Judaism. However, you simply can’t argue with basic facts about financial behaviors that set people up for a wealthy life:

  1. Save early, save plenty.
  2. Educate your children about financial management and establish their future by investing in their education.
  3. Be involved in your family’s financial well-being through constant communication and participation.
  4. Consider investing in yourself before bringing new life into this world only so that your child faces the same financial struggles as you.
  5. Consider investing in financial assets before jumping into real estate or fixed assets (especially when you’re young).
  6. Don’t discard religion – after all it helps build important bonds that will aid you in your quest for financial independence.

Fact: you don’t have to be Jewish to do as they do.

With that, I’d like to finish up this rather long train of thought that in all honesty deserves a much deeper discussion that what is possible to cover in a blog entry. For a full study and its findings I highly recommend checking it out here (PDF).

Finally, I’d like to conclude that these are my personal observations of what I found to be a very fascinating subject. I’m not an expert in investing and give no specific advice. Also, If I offended anyone in any way, I apologize in advance as this post was meant to look at financial connections to one religious group and not to offend any specific group of people.

For those looking for a good book on investing, check out The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (in collaboration with Warren Buffett). Full disclosure: affiliate link. He was one of the few investors who got away with profiting under the worst of market conditions. It’s a fantastic read, and a great start if stocks are not your thing yet.

Are you Jewish by any chance? Does any of this hold true for you? If you’re not, what are you doing to secure your future and increase earnings?

17 Comments

  1. Nice post. I really could not agree more. I grew up in a heavily Jewish populated community, and (in general) definitely saw this to be true. I think education, especially financial education is sorely lacking in our educational system. I do not know why, but it is. I think part of it is lack of making it a priority and also assumption that it will happen at home. I think it needs to happen in both places to really help people learn how to manage finances and become smarter and wiser.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..A Smart Way to Play Interior Designer When MovingMy Profile

    • Is this going to change the way you raise your own kids, or is that something that’s been part of your “plan” from the beginning – to teach financial values early.

    • I’m glad you feel this way. It has really opened up my mind to thinking in a different way. Ever since looking at how this group of people treat education, savings and investing, I’ve come to turn around my own financial plan :)

    • Yep, they leave a lot more in fact, twice more and twice as often than other religions. Why is this? People need to think about their kids more… I’m going to have to kick my brother in the shin for being stupid in this area.

    • Exactly, I was kind of ignorant before to be honest, but ever since I became more interested in money and interacting with other bloggers, I want to learn from everyone – no matter their affiliation or religion.

    • Thanks, it really came out after my boyfriend had asked me why jews make more money. I had to pause and think for a bit and then find out for myself! I have to say, I learned quite a bit and seek to find out more. Maybe I should become jewish! LOL.

  2. When I first noticed the title of this article, I was very interested to see how you tackled this topic. What you write is very true. I only carry a small about of Jewish blood in me, but your analysis is accurate. Especially around education and acceptable career choices. It is very rare to find a Jew who is not a Doctor, Lawyer – and you almost never come across one who isn’t successful. There is a lot of wisdom within that culture and the proofs in the pudding.
    Jason Clayton | frugal habits recently posted..What’s with all the Closing Costs and Fees when getting a MortgageMy Profile

    • When I grew up I was lead to believe that I can be anything. Although this COULD be true and certainly does happen, I now believe to be a very small probability in the whole population. Our generation has grown to be selfish and think we’re all that when we really aren’t. There’s a reason parents have high expectations of their kids – because good education brings good jobs. Whether we like it or not, the world is not made of millionaire entrepreneurs, geniuses who establish companies that change the world and super athletes who earn more in a year than most do in a lifetime. For the 99% of us, school is a must and so is a solid financial foundation early on in our childhood. Now I wish I could have my childhood back and teach myself this…

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