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The Impact of the Slave Trade on Literacy in Africa: Evidence from the Colonial Era

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  • Nonso Obikili

Abstract

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of Africa's history of slave exporting to its current economic development. In this paper I show that differences in investment in education may be one of the channels through which that history has affected current development. I combine data on literacy rates of administrative districts from the colonial censuses of Nigeria and Ghana from the 1950's with data on slave exports of different ethnic groups. I find a negative and signi cant relationship between slave export intensity before the colonial era and literacy rates during the colonial era. I also use contemporary data on literacy rates from the 2010 Nigerian Literacy Survey and find that this negative relationship is still present and significant. Thus, I show that the slave trades affected development through channels other than inter-ethnic group confliict or formal nation-state level institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Nonso Obikili, 2013. "The Impact of the Slave Trade on Literacy in Africa: Evidence from the Colonial Era," Working Papers 378, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:378
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    Cited by:

    1. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2015. "Climate and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 19-32.
    2. Boxell, Levi, 2016. "A Drought-Induced African Slave Trade?," MPRA Paper 69853, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; Slave trades; Human Capital; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N97 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Africa; Oceania
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development

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