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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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland & Yokossi, Tite, 2016. "On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies: Evidence from Colonial Railroads in Nigeria," MPRA Paper 75262, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The legacies of slavery in and out of Africa," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    3. Simplice Asongu & Oasis Kodila-Tedika, 2015. "Intelligence and Slave Export Intensity: A Cross-Country Empirical Assessment," Working Papers 15/029, African Governance and Development Institute..
    4. Boxell, Levi, 2016. "A Drought-Induced African Slave Trade?," MPRA Paper 69853, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 66-76.
    6. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland, 2015. "Sea Change: The Competing Long-Run Impacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Missionary Activity in Africa," MPRA Paper 66221, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Whatley, Warren, 2012. "The transatlantic slave trade and the evolution of political authority in West Africa," MPRA Paper 44932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Whatley, Warren C., 2018. "The gun-slave hypothesis and the 18th century British slave trade," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 80-104.
    9. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Simplice Asongu & Matthias Cinyabuguma, 2016. "The White Man’s Burden: On the Effect of African Resistance to European Domination," Working Papers 16/016, African Governance and Development Institute..
    10. Angeles, Luis, 2012. "On the causes of the African Slave Trade," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-91, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    11. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Martin Mulunda Kabange, 2016. "Slave trade and Human Trafficking," Working Papers 16/002, African Governance and Development Institute..
    12. Luis Angeles, 2013. "On the Causes of the A frican Slave Trade," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 1-26, February.
    13. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2012. "Climate, ecosystem resilience and the slave trade," MPRA Paper 38398, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The Legacies of Slavery in and out of Africa," Department of Economics 0096, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    15. Mark Dincecco & James Fenske & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2014. "Is Africa Different? Historical Conflict and State Development," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-35, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    16. Whatley, Warren, 2012. "The Gun-Slave Cycle in the 18th century British slave trade in Africa," MPRA Paper 44492, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2015. "Climate and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 19-32.
    18. Klas Rönnbäck, 2014. "Living standards on the pre-colonial Gold Coast: a quantitative estimate of African laborers’ welfare ratios," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 185-202.
    19. Auke Rijpma & Sarah Guilland Carmichael, 2015. "Testing Todd and Matching Murdock: Global Data on Historical Family Characteristics," Working Papers 0072, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    20. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2013. "Esclavagisme et colonisation : Quelles conséquences contemporaines en Afrique ? - Résumé critique des travaux de l'économiste Nathan Nunn
      [Slavery and colonization: What contemporary consequences i
      ," MPRA Paper 43732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Esposito, Elena, 2015. "Side Effects of Immunities: the African Slave Trade," Economics Working Papers MWP2015/09, European University Institute.
    22. Henderson, Morgan & Whatley, Warren, 2014. "Pacification and Gender in Colonial Africa: Evidence from the Ethnographic Atlas," MPRA Paper 61203, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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