The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa
We investigate the historical origins of mistrust within Africa. Combining contemporary household survey data with historic data on slave shipments, we show that individuals whose ancestors were heavily raided during the slave trade today exhibit less trust in neighbors, relatives, and their local government. We confirm that the relationship is causal by using the historic distance from the coast of a respondent's ancestors as an instrument for the intensity of the slave trade, while controlling for the individual's current distance from the coast. We undertake a number of falsification tests, all of which suggest that the necessary exclusion restriction is satisfied. Exploiting variation among individuals who live in locations different from their ancestors, we show that most of the impact of the slave trade works through factors that are internal to the individual, such as cultural norms, beliefs, and values.
We thank seminar participants at Boston University, Columbia University, Dalhousie University, Dartmouth College, Georgia Tech, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, LSE, MIT, Simon Fraser University, UCL, University of Michigan, Universitat Pompeu Fabra-CREI, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Warwick University, Yale University, ASSA Meetings, EHA meetings, NBER Political Economy Program Meeting, and Sieper's SITE conference, as well as Daron Acemoglu, Michael Bratton, Alejandro Corvalan, William Darity, William Easterly, James Fenske, Patrick Francois, Avner Greif, Joseph Henrich, Karla Hoff, Joseph Inikori, Petra Moser, Elisabeth Ndour, Eva Ng, and Ifedayo Olufemi Kuye, Torsten Persson, Warren Whatley, and Robert Woodberry for valuable comments. We also thank Sayon Deb and Katherine Wilson for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-52, December. citation courtesy of