Monday, November 10, 2008

The economics of the slave trade

A number of the posts I have made recently have been pretty hard on researchers, so I thought I'd mention some academic focused econ work I like.

Warren Whatley of the University of Michigan estimates the supply function of slaves in the 18th century. Some African groups were very complacent in the slave trade because they recieved a steady supply of guns in exchange for slaves, which made capturing people for export very enticing. The guns of course then had the added benefit of making the capture of people more easy. Warren discusses how these incentives had an important effect on the dynamics of the slave trade.

The effect of this trade has been explored by Nathan Nunn from Harvard. In addition to having a great first name, I've been following his works on the long-term effects of the slave trade. Normally I don't find historical work to be very interesting as there are always a lot of problems with the data, but I think he's got some interesting ways to approach the issue.

And for those that were wondering, yes, slavery did have a big negative effect.

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