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The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades

By Nathan Nunn


Can part of Africa’s current underdevelopment be explained by its slave trades? To explore this question, I use data from shipping records and historical documents reporting slave ethnicities to construct estimates of the number of slaves exported from each country during Africa’s slave trades. I find a robust negative relationship between the number of slaves exported from a country and current economic performance. To better understand if the relationship is causal, I examine the historical evidence on selection into the slave trades, and use instrumental variables. Together the evidence suggests that the slave trades have had an adverse effect on economic development.

Topics: O1 - Economic Development, F1 - Trade, O55 - Africa
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.3386/w13367
OAI identifier:

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