The Long-Term Effect of Slavery on Violent Crime: Evidence from US Counties

60 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2013 Last revised: 14 Oct 2017

See all articles by Moamen Gouda

Moamen Gouda

Graduate School of International and Area Studies (GSIAS), Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS); Marburg Center for Institutional Economics

Anouk Rigterink

University of Oxford

Date Written: October 14, 2017

Abstract

This study investigates the long-term relationship between slavery and violence in the USA. Although considerable qualitative evidence suggests that slavery has been a key factor behind the prevalence of violence, especially in Southern USA, there has been no large-N study supporting this claim so far. Using county-level data for the USA, we find that the proportion of slaves in the population in 1860 is associated with significantly higher rates of violent crime in all census years for the period 1970-2000. This relationship is robust to including state fixed effects, controlling for numerous historical and contemporary factors, as well as to instrumenting for slavery using environmental conditions. We consider three channels of transmission between slavery and violent crime: inequality, a culture of violence, and ethnic fractionalization/segregation. Although we find some evidence supporting inequality and culture as a channel, results based on data for the year 2000 suggest that ethnic fractionalization/segregation is the most important mediator.

Keywords: Slavery, crime, inequality, culture, fractionalization, segregation, violence, US South

JEL Classification: J15, J71, K42, N31, Z13

Suggested Citation

Gouda, Moamen and Rigterink, Anouk, The Long-Term Effect of Slavery on Violent Crime: Evidence from US Counties (October 14, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2358389 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2358389

Moamen Gouda (Contact Author)

Graduate School of International and Area Studies (GSIAS), Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) ( email )

270 Imun-Dong
Dongdaemun-Gu
Seoul, 130-791
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/moamengoudaecon/

Marburg Center for Institutional Economics ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 24
Marburg, D-35032
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb02/macie/index_html?set_language=en

Anouk Rigterink

University of Oxford ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.anoukrigterink.com/

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