February 10, 2005
20050208: Econ 113 Lecture: Slavery 1
The Slave Trade:
- Very profitable
- Extraordinarily inhumane
Adam Smith expected slavery to come to a rapid end after 1776; Adam Smith was wrong.
Why slavery should come to an end:
- Inefficient--slave has no incentive
- An incentive-compatible system produces a larger economic pie
- And people can decide on a system better for everyone--a system that's still unequal, but not as brutal and vicious
What maintains slavery?
- Extreme cheapness of slaves--makes vicious discipline credible
- Extreme control--slaves cannot run away
- Extreme monitoring--easy to see if slaves are working hard
Caesar; classical Roman slavery; Arabic slavery; mamelukes
The American South
- Quick end of indentured servitude
- The assumption that everyone black was a slave makes control easy
- Plantation staple crops make monitoring easy?
- Cheapness? That became a problem after 1807
Still slavery persisted; Domar's argument; free land made it impossible to strike the emancipatory bargain--hence the coming of the Civil War
Posted by DeLong at February 10, 2005 12:38 PM