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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 To explore this question, I use data from shipping records and historical documents reporting slave ethnicities to construct estimates of the number of slaves exported from each country during Africa's slave trades.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
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
  2. Graziella Bertocchi & Fabio Canova, 1996. "Did colonization matter for growth? An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," Economics Working Papers 202, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  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. Kris James Mitchener & Ian W. McLean, 2003. "The Productivity of U.S. States Since 1880," NBER Working Papers 9445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2008. "Root Causes of African Underdevelopment," Departmental Working Papers 2008-16, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  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. William Easterly & Jozef Ritzan & Michael Woolcock, 2006. "Social Cohesion, Institutions, and Growth," Working Papers 94, Center for Global Development.
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