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Slavery, Institutional Development, and Long-Run Growth in Africa, 1400--2000

  • Nathan Nunn

    (University of Toronto)

Can Africa's current state of under-development be partially attributed to the large trade in slaves that occurred during the Atlantic, Saharan, Red Sea and Indian Ocean slave trades? To answer this question, I combine shipping data with historical records that report slave ethnicities and construct measures of the number of slaves exported from each country in Africa between 1400 and 1913. I find the number of slaves exported from a country to be an important determinant of economic performance in the second half of the 20th century. To correct for potential biases arising from measurement error and unobservable country characteristics, I instrument slave exports using measures of the distance from each country to the major slave markets around the world. I also find that the importance of the slave trade for contemporary development is a result of its detrimental impact on the formation of domestic institutions, such as the security of private property, the quality of the judicial system, and the overall rule of law. This is the channel through which the slave trade continues to matter today.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/it/papers/0411/0411007.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Trade with number 0411007.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 26 Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpit:0411007
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 48
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Graziella Bertocchi & Fabio Canova, 1996. "Did colonization matter for growth? An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," Economics Working Papers 202, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Wacziarg, Romain & Kurlat, Sergio & Easterly, William, 2003. "Fractionalization," Scholarly Articles 4553003, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Elsa V. Artadi & Xavier Sala-i-Martín, 2003. "The economic tragedy of the XXth Century: Growth in Africa," Economics Working Papers 684, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  6. Stanley L Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economics," NBER Working Papers 9259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Englebert, Pierre, 2000. "Solving the Mystery of the AFRICA Dummy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(10), pages 1821-1835, October.
  9. Grier, Robin M, 1999. " Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 317-35, March.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
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