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Preserving Slave Families for Profit: Traders' Incentives and Pricing in the New Orleans Slave Market

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  • Charles Calomiris
  • Jonathan Pritchett

Abstract

We investigate the determinants of slave family discounts, using data from the New Orleans slave market. We find large price discounts for families which cannot be explained by scale effects, childcare costs, legal restrictions, or transport costs. Because family members cared for each other, sellers found it advantageous to keep some families together. Evidence from the manifests of ships carrying slaves to be sold in New Orleans provides direct evidence for our model of selectivity bias in explaining slave family discounts. Children likely to have been shipped with their mothers are 1-2 inches shorter than other children.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Calomiris & Jonathan Pritchett, 2008. "Preserving Slave Families for Profit: Traders' Incentives and Pricing in the New Orleans Slave Market," NBER Working Papers 14281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14281
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "The Structure of Slave Prices in New Orleans, 1804 to 1862," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(4), pages 496-518, October.
    2. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Daniel E. Smith, 1983. "Description of Data," NBER Chapters,in: Pensions in the American Economy, pages 20-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pritchett, Jonathan B. & Freudenberger, Herman, 1992. "A Peculiar Sample: The Selection of Slaves for the New Orleans Market," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 109-127, March.
    4. Jonathan B. Pritchett & Richard M. Chamberlain, 1993. "Selection in the Market for Slaves: New Orleans, 1830–1860," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 461-473.
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    Cited by:

    1. Charles W. Calomiris & Jonathan Pritchett, 2016. "Betting on Secession: Quantifying Political Events Surrounding Slavery and the Civil War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. repec:bla:ehsrev:v:70:y:2017:i:1:p:3-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pritchett, Jonathan & Freudenberger, Herman, 2016. "A Peculiar Sample: A Reply to Steckel and Ziebarth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(01), pages 139-162, March.
    4. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy W. & Mroz, Thomas A., 2013. "Problems of Sample-Selection Bias in the Historical Heights Literature: A Theoretical and Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 114, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    5. Eric B. Schneider, 2017. "Children's growth in an adaptive framework: explaining the growth patterns of American slaves and other historical populations," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(1), pages 3-29, February.
    6. Howard Bodenhorn & Timothy Guinnane & Thomas Mroz, 2014. "Caveat Lector: Sample Selection in Historical Heights and the Interpretation of Early Industrializing Economies," NBER Working Papers 19955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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