We investigate the impact of historic slave trade on contemporary educational outcomes in Africa by replicating the empirical approach in Nunn (2008) and Nunn and Wantchekon (2011). We show that slavery's long-term legacy for literacy depends on how spatial effects are accounted for. In cross-country regressions, exposure to historic slave trade negatively predicts contemporary literacy. However, within countries, individuals whose ethnic ancestors were historically more exposed to slave exports, have higher education levels today compared to individuals from ethnicities less exposed to slave trade in the past. We argue that these somewhat puzzling findings resonate with emerging critiques of persistence studies that link historical variables with long-run development outcomes.
Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 3 Special Issue - Slavery and Its Legacies: Articles Overview
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