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Trade Restrictions and Factor Prices: Slave Prices in Early Nineteenth Century US


  • Ashley N. Coleman

    (Wachovia Bank, Charlotte, NC)

  • William K. Hutchinson

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)


Trade restrictions impact factor and commodity prices in very predictable ways according to international trade theory. We use a new data set to explore the direct effect on the price of slaves that resulted from legislation prohibiting the importation of slaves after January 1, 1808. Prohibition of the importation of slaves increases the average price of slaves as one would anticipate. Moreover, we find that the price of a female slave of childbearing age increases more than the price for older female slaves. The price of adolescent female slaves, ages 10 to 14, increased more than the price of an adult male slave as a result of the ban on importation of slaves. We also assess the impact of the embargo of 1807 and the ensuing War of 1812 on the price of slaves as the intensive factor input in the production of cotton, rice and tobacco, goods that were severely impacted by the reduction of exports to Britain and continental Europe during this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashley N. Coleman & William K. Hutchinson, 2005. "Trade Restrictions and Factor Prices: Slave Prices in Early Nineteenth Century US," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0521, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0521

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas A. Irwin, 2001. "The Welfare Cost of Autarky: Evidence from the Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807-1809," NBER Working Papers 8692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wolfgang F. Stolper & Paul A. Samuelson, 1941. "Protection and Real Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 58-73.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ashley N. Coleman & William K. Hutchinson, 2006. "Determinants of Slave Prices: Louisiana, 1725 to 1820," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0624, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Factor prices; trade barriers; slavery;

    JEL classification:

    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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