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Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century

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Listed:
  • Jörg Baten
  • Johan Fourie

Abstract

The lack of accurate measures of human capital formation often constrain investigations into the long-run determinants of growth and comparative economic development, especially in regions such as Africa. Using the reported age of criminals in the Courts of Justice records in the Cape Archive, this paper documents, for the first time, the levels of and trends in numeracy for inhabitants of the Cape Colony born between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. Cape inhabitants included the native Khoe and San, European settlers, and imported slaves from other African regions and Asia. This hodgepodge of individuals allows a unique comparison between contemporaneous levels of 18th century development across three continents. By isolating those slaves born at the Cape, we also provide a glimpse into the dynamics of human capital transfer in colonial settings.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg Baten & Johan Fourie, 2012. "Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century," Working Papers 270, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:270
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2007. "The role of education quality for economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4122, The World Bank.
    2. Gareth Austin & Joerg Baten & Bas Van Leeuwen, 2012. "The biological standard of living in early nineteenth-century West Africa: new anthropometric evidence for northern Ghana and Burkina Faso," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(4), pages 1280-1302, November.
    3. Johan Fourie & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2013. "GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The National Accounts of a Slave-Based Society," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 81(4), pages 467-490, December.
    4. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
    5. Kerstin Manzel & Joerg Baten & Yvonne Stolz, 2012. "Convergence and divergence of numeracy: the development of age heaping in Latin America from the seventeenth to the twentieth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(3), pages 932-960, August.
    6. K. H. O'Rourke & J. G. Williamson, 2001. "After Columbus: Explaining the Global Trade Boom 1500-1800," CEG Working Papers 20014, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    7. Péter Földvári & Bas Van Leeuwen, 2006. "An Estimation of the Human Capital Stock in Eastern and Central Europe," Eastern European Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 53-65, December.
    8. Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2010. "Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-33, February.
    9. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
    10. Coulombe Serge & Tremblay Jean-François, 2006. "Literacy and Growth," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-34, August.
    11. Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen & Joachim Voth, 2007. "Poor, hungry and ignorant: Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780-1850," Economics Working Papers 1120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2011.
    12. Dorothee Crayen & Joerg Baten, 2010. "New evidence and new methods to measure human capital inequality before and during the industrial revolution: France and the US in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 452-478, May.
    13. Johan Fourie & Dieter von Fintel, 2011. "Settler skills and colonial development," Working Papers 213, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    14. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2010. "Globalization and educational inequality during the 18th to 20th centuries: Latin America in global comparison," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 279-305, September.
    15. John Komlos, "undated". "Anomalies in Economic History: Reflections on the 'Antebellum Puzzle'," Articles by John Komlos 12, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
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    17. Baten, Joerg & Pelger, Ines & Twrdek, Linda, 2009. "The anthropometric history of Argentina, Brazil and Peru during the 19th and early 20th century," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 319-333, December.
    18. Romer, Paul M., 1990. "Human capital and growth: Theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 251-286, January.
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Slavenomics
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2012-03-19 23:36:30
    2. Slavenomics
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2012-03-19 23:36:30
    3. South Africa: A country of migrants
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2013-12-03 14:18:43

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Human Capital; South Africa; Whipple; Age-heaping; Africa; Asia;

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development

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