Productivity in the transatlantic slave trade

TitleProductivity in the transatlantic slave trade
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsEltis, D, Richardson, D
JournalExplorations in Economic History [H.W.Wilson - SSA]
ISBN Number0014-4983
KeywordsCobb-Douglas production function, France/Colonies/History, Great Britain/Colonies/History, Slave trade/Africa, Slave trade/Caribbean region

  A study was conducted using a standard production function to measure total factor productivity in the transatlantic slave trade, chiefly French and British, between 1673 and the mid-19th century. Substantial new data were added to the Mettas-Daget data set to produce evidence of 13,000 slaving voyages,of which 1,800 have adequate information for an analysis of total factor productivity. Findings indicated that the English slave traders were more efficient than the French slave traders, mainly due to speedier voyages; that major changes in productivity took place over time and across national groupings of slave traders together, suggesting that supply conditions in Africa were partly responsible; and that secular movement in productivity was not apparent until the 19th century.