Nathan Nunn, 27 February 2017

Evidence suggests that Africa's slave trades played an important part in the shaping of the continent not only in terms of economic outcomes, but cultural and social outcomes as well. This column, taken from a recently published VoxEU eBook, summarises studies that reveal the lasting toxic effects of Africa’s four waves of slave trades on contemporary development.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 14 February 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces the second eBook in a new three-part series which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics. This volume focuses on attempts by economists to shed light on the effects of European colonisers on development and culture across Africa and Asia.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 23 January 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces a new eBook in three volumes which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics.

James Fenske, 09 November 2013

Several theories link polygamy to poverty. Polygamy is concentrated in west Africa and has declined in recent decades. Geographic variation in women’s agricultural productivity does not predict differences in the prevalence of polygamy, but historical inequality and exposure to the slave trade do. Although contemporary female education does not reduce polygamy, areas with more educational investment in the past have less polygamy today. Conflict and lower rainfall lead to small increases in polygamy, whereas lower child mortality leads to a large decrease. National policies appear to have little effect.

James Fenske, Namrata Kala, 11 June 2013

The slave trade continues to shape modern Africa. This column analyzes environmental shocks to the supply side of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and their long-term effects. During warm periods, African ports exported fewer slaves because lower agricultural productivity raised slavers' costs. These temperature fluctuations had long-run impacts, and ports that experienced a warmer period during the decades when the slave trade was most active appear more developed today.

Nathan Nunn, Diego Puga, 06 June 2007

African nations with ‘bad’ terrain suffered less from the slave trade. More than a century after the slave trade ended, the protective benefits of ruggedness still outweigh its contemporary economic disadvantages when it comes to GDP per capita.

Events