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Climate and the slave trade

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  • Fenske, James
  • Kala, Namrata

Abstract

African societies exported more slaves in colder years. Lower temperatures reduced mortality and raised agricultural yields, lowering slave supply costs. Our results help explain African participation in the slave trade, which predicts adverse outcomes today. We use an annual panel of African temperatures and port-level slave exports to show that exports declined when local temperatures were warmer than normal. This result is strongest where African ecosystems are least resilient to climate change. Cold weather shocks at the peak of the slave trade predict lower economic activity today. We support our interpretation using the histories of Whydah, Benguela, and Mozambique.

Suggested Citation

  • Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2015. "Climate and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 19-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:112:y:2015:i:c:p:19-32
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.10.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Boxell, Levi, 2016. "A Drought-Induced African Slave Trade?," MPRA Paper 69853, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The legacies of slavery in and out of Africa," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    3. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 66-76.
    4. 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.
    5. Papaioannou, Kostadis J. & de Haas, Michiel, 2017. "Weather Shocks and Agricultural Commercialization in Colonial Tropical Africa: Did Cash Crops Alleviate Social Distress?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 346-365.
    6. Anastasia Litina, 2016. "Natural land productivity, cooperation and comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 351-408, December.
    7. Ticku, R. & Shrivastava, A. & Iyer, S., 2018. "Economic Shocks and Temple Desecrations in Medieval India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1862, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. 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".
    9. 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.
    10. Dalton, John & Leung, Tin Cheuk, 2015. "Being Bad by Being Good: Owner and Captain Value-Added in the Slave Trade," MPRA Paper 66865, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2018. "Historical Legacies and African Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 13309, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. repec:eee:deveco:v:136:y:2019:i:c:p:137-150 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Cherniwchan, Jevan & Moreno-Cruz, Juan, 2019. "Maize and precolonial Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 137-150.
    14. repec:oup:ereveh:v:21:y:2017:i:1:p:1-28. is not listed on IDEAS

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    Climate; Africa; Slave trade;

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