Trade Restrictions and Factor Prices:Slave Prices in Early Nineteenth Century US
Coleman, Ashley N.
Hutchinson, William K.
Trade restrictions impact factor and commodity prices in very predictable ways according to international trade theory. We use a new data set to explore the direct effect on the price of slaves that resulted from legislation prohibiting the importation of slaves after January 1, 1808. Prohibition of the importation of slaves increases the average price of slaves as one would anticipate. Moreover, we find that the price of a female slave of childbearing age increases more than the price for older female slaves. The price of adolescent female slaves, ages 10 to 14, increased more than the price of an adult male slave as a result of the ban on importation of slaves. We also assess the impact of the embargo of 1807 and the ensuing War of 1812 on the price of slaves as the intensive factor input in the production of cotton, rice and tobacco, goods that were severely impacted by the reduction of exports to Britain and continental Europe during this period.