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Climate, Ecosystem Resilience and the Slave Trade

  • James Fenske
  • Namrata Kala

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.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2012-23.

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Date of creation: 25 Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2012-23
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