Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 3

The Predicament of Establishing Persistence: Slavery and Human Capital in Africa

Adeel Malik, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK, , Vanessa Bouaroudj, Independent Researcher, UK,
Suggested Citation
Adeel Malik and Vanessa Bouaroudj (2021), "The Predicament of Establishing Persistence: Slavery and Human Capital in Africa", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 3, pp 411-446.

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021
© 2021 A. Malik and V. Bouaroudj
Econometric models,  Health economics,  Labor economics,  Economic theory,  International relations,  Civil conflict,  International conflict,  Political economy,  Political history,  Collective action
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In this article:
Empirical Specifications and Data 
Empirical Results 


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
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.