The Origins of Financial Development: How the African Slave Trade Continues to Influence Modern Finance

50 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017 Last revised: 4 Oct 2017

See all articles by Ross Levine

Ross Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Chen Lin

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics

Wensi Xie

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - CUHK Business School

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

We assess how the African slave trade—which had enduring effects on social cohesion—continues to influence financial systems. After showing that the intensity with which people were enslaved and exported from Africa during the 1400 – 1900 period helps account for overall financial development, household access to credit, and firm access to finance, we evaluate three potential mechanisms linking the slave trade to modern finance—information sharing institutions, trust in financial institutions, and the quality of legal institutions. We discover that the slave trade is strongly, negatively related to the information sharing and trust mechanisms but not to the legal mechanism.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Ross Eric and Lin, Chen and Xie, Wensi, The Origins of Financial Development: How the African Slave Trade Continues to Influence Modern Finance (September 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23800. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3035157

Ross Eric Levine (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chen Lin

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Wensi Xie

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - CUHK Business School ( email )

Cheng Yu Tung Building
12 Chak Cheung Street
Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

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