Climate and the [historical] slave trade

This is an interesting data set and a neat reduced-form result, although I think the mechanism is less clear than the authors suggest. I also like that the authors are drawing from a wider body of literature than is usual (and from their references, I can't but help get the creeping feeling that they might be reading FE).

Climate, ecosystem resilience and the slave trade

James Fenske and Namrata Kala
African societies exported more slaves in colder years. Lower temperatures reduced mortality and raised agricultural yields, lowering the cost of supplying slaves. Our results help explain African participation in the slave trade, which is associated with adverse outcomes today. We merge annual data on African temperatures with a panel of port-level slave exports to show that a typical port exported fewer slaves in a year when the local temperature was warmer than normal. This result is strongest where African ecosystems are least resilient to climate change, and is robust to several alternative specifications and robustness checks. We support our interpretation using evidence from the histories of Whydah, Benguela, and Mozambique.

h/t Ted Miguel

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