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The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Ethnic Stratification in Africa

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  • Warren Whatley
  • Rob Gillezeau

Abstract

In the last 15 years, economists and economic historians have argued that Africa has undergone a "reversal of fortune" and that ethnic fragmentation is a significant cause of Africa's underdevelopment. In this article, we join these narratives by arguing that the transatlantic slave trade increased the degree of ethnic heterogeneity in Africa today. Using both correlational and causal instrumental variables analysis, we find an economically and statistically significant positive relationship between slave exports and ethnic heterogeneity. This relationship is robust to changes in the scheme for drawing ethnic boundaries and the choice of observational unit.

Suggested Citation

  • Warren Whatley & Rob Gillezeau, 2011. "The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Ethnic Stratification in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 571-576, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:571-76
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.3.571
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
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