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Collateral Effect : Slavery and Wealth in the Cape Colony


Summary, in English

This thesis reassesses the framework we have come to accept around the dynamics of slavery in a series of papers which, together, shed new light on the economics of coercion. Employing a range of newly digitized historical databases covering the economic life and genealogical history of the British Cape Colony through the 18th and 19th centuries, it explores the determinants of labor coercion in light of two significant institutional shocks: the Slave Trade Act 1807, when the transshipment of slaves became illegal, and the Slave Abolition Act 1833 when the possession of slaves was outlawed. Slaveholding households are analyzed from a longitudinal perspective, such that the interdependencies of slave ownership, agricultural output, and related capital are considered simultaneously. It concludes that scenarios with weak property rights to land and lack of organized means for the provision of credit rendered slaves a suitable financial instrument allowing slaveholders to exploit the enslaved as means to raise capital beyond the agricultural labor. It magnifies the importance of slavery in the colony and provides economic historians with another tool to further interpret the profitability and the efficiency of the slave system. Understanding the proprietary relationship between masters and slaves and, consequently, their exploitation beyond agricultural work is key to explaining the dynamics of slavery in its entirety.

Publishing year





Lund Studies in Economic History

Document type



Lund University


  • Economic History


  • Slavery
  • slave trade
  • slave emancipation
  • agricultural history
  • Cape Colony




  • The Cape of the Good Hope Panel: Long-term studies of growth, inequality and labour coercion in the global south



  • ISSN: 1400-4860
  • ISSN: 1400-4860
  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-68-4
  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-69-1

Defence date

14 October 2020

Defence time


Defence place



  • Leticia Arroyo Abad (Associate professor)