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American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 7 (December 2011)

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The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa

Article Citation

Nunn, Nathan, and Leonard Wantchekon. 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa." American Economic Review, 101(7): 3221-52.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.7.3221

Abstract

We show that current differences in trust levels within Africa can be traced back to the transatlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades. Combining contemporary individual-level survey data with historical data on slave shipments by ethnic group, we find that individuals whose ancestors were heavily raided during the slave trade are less trusting today. Evidence from a variety of identification strategies suggests that the relationship is causal. Examining causal mechanisms, we show that most of the impact of the slave trade is through factors that are internal to the individual, such as cultural norms, beliefs, and values. (JEL J15, N57, Z13)

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Authors

Nunn, Nathan (Harvard U)
Wantchekon, Leonard (NYU)

JEL Classifications

J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
N57: Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: Africa; Oceania
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification


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