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Side Effects of Immunities: the African Slave Trade

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  • Esposito, Elena

Abstract

The resistance of Sub-Saharan Africans to diseases that were plaguing the southern United States contributed to the establishment of African slavery in those regions. Specifically, Africans' resistance to malaria increased the profitability of employing African slave labor, especially that of slaves coming from the most malaria-ridden parts of Africa. In this paper, I first document that African slavery was largely concentrated in the malaria-infested areas of the United States. Moreover, I show that the introduction of a virulent strain of malaria into US colonies greatly increased the share of African slaves, but only in states where malaria could thrive. Finally, by looking at the historical prices of African slaves, I show that enslaved individuals born in the most malaria-ridden African regions commanded higher prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Esposito, Elena, 2015. "Side Effects of Immunities: the African Slave Trade," Economics Working Papers MWP2015/09, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:mwp2015/09
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
    2. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2014. "Slavery, education, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 197-209.
    3. Marcella Alsan, 2015. "The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 382-410, January.
    4. Galenson, David W., 1981. "White Servitude and the Growth of Black Slavery in Colonial America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 39-47, March.
    5. repec:wly:econjl:v:128:y:2018:i:610:p:1207-1234 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2011. "Disease and development: The role of life expectancy reconsidered," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 269-272.
    7. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 6824, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Emilio Depetris†Chauvin & David N. Weil, 2018. "Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(610), pages 1207-1234, May.
    9. Coelho, Philip R. P. & McGuire, Robert A., 1997. "African and European Bound Labor in the British New World: The Biological Consequences of Economic Choices," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(01), pages 83-115, March.
    10. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Slavery; Malaria; African Slave Trade; Colonial Institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N57 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Africa; Oceania
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets

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