On the causes of the African Slave Trade
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This paper offers an integrated analysis of the forces shaping the emergence of the African slave trade over the early modern period. We focus our attention on two questions. First, why most of the increase in the demand for slaves during this period came exclusively from western Europeans. Second, and of most relevance for present-day development outcomes, why was the overwhelming majority of slaves of African origin. Technological differences in manufacturing technology, the specificities of sugar (and other crops’) production, and the cultural fragmentation of the African continent all play a role in the analysis. Supporting evidence for each of our claims is provided from a broad corpus of relevant literature.