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The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades

  • 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 To explore this question, I use data from shipping records and historical documents reporting slave ethnicities to construct estimates of the number of slaves exported from each country during Africa's slave trades.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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13367.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13367.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13367
Note: ITI
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  1. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2008. "Root Causes of African Underdevelopment," Departmental Working Papers 2008-16, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  3. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  4. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
  5. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W, 2003. " The Productivity of US States since 1880," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 73-114, March.
  6. William Easterly & Jozef Ritzen & Michael Woolcock, 2006. "Social Cohesion, Institutions, And Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 103-120, 07.
  7. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. " States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
  8. James D. Fearon & Macartan Humphreys & Jeremy M. Weinstein, 2009. "Can Development Aid Contribute to Social Cohesion after Civil War? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Post-conflict Liberia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 287-91, May.
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