S-WoPEc
 
Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
HomeAboutSeriesSubject/JEL codesAdvanced Search
African Economic History Network African Economic History Working Paper, African Economic History Network

No 35/2017:
THE GUN-SLAVE HYPOTHESIS AND THE 18TH CENTURY BRITISH SLAVE TRADE

Warren C. Whatley ()

Abstract: The Gun-Slave Hypothesis is the long-standing idea that European gunpowder technology played a key role in growing the transatlantic slave trade. I combine annual data from the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database and the Anglo-African Trade Statistics to estimate a Vector Error Correction Model of the 18th century British slave trade that captures four versions of the Gun-Slave Hypothesis: guns-for-slaves-in-exchange, guns-for-slaves-in-production, slaves-for-guns-derived and the gun-slave cycle. Three econometric results emerge. (1) Gunpowder imports and slave exports were co-integrated in a long-run equilibrium relationship. (2) Positive deviations from equilibrium gunpowder “produced” additional slave exports. This guns-for-slaves-in-production result survives 17 placebo tests that replace gunpowder with non-lethal commodities imports. It is also confirmed by an instrumental variables estimation that uses excess capacity in the British gunpowder industry as an instrument for gunpowder. (3) Additional slave exports attracted additional gunpowder imports for 2-3 more years. Together these dynamics formed a gun-slave cycle. Impulse-response functions generate large increases in slave export in response to increases in gunpowder imports. I use these results to explain the growth of slave exports along the Guinea Coast of Africa in the 18th century.

Keywords: TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE; GUN-SLAVE CYCLE; BRITAIN; AFRICA; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: F66; N43; N47; N73; N77; O33; (follow links to similar papers)

56 pages, July 13, 2017

Download Statistics



Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Erik Green ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson () or Helena Lundin ().

Programing by
Design by Joachim Ekebom

Handle: RePEc:hhs:afekhi:2017_035 This page was generated on 2017-07-13 11:19:09