Slavery and the British Industrial Revolution

Stephan Heblich, Stephen Redding and Hans-Joachim Voth in this article on one of the burning questions on industrial revolution: Was industrial revolution driven by slavery?

To what extent the wealth derived from slavery contributed to Europe’s economic growth has been a hotly debated question for more than two centuries. Most economists studying the question have looked at national aggregates. This column examines geographically disaggregated data on the impact that slavery wealth had on Britain’s industrial development. The authors find that slaveholding areas were less agricultural, closer to cotton mills, and had more property wealth. Not only did the slave trade affect the geography of economic development after 1750, it also accelerated Britain’s Industrial Revolution.

Full paper is here

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