Slave prices, the African slave trade and productivity in the Caribbean, 1674–1807
|Authors & editors
|Economic History Review
|Year of publication
|2005 LVIII (4), 673–700
|Scope & content
|The study of the development of the Americas has been dominated by paradigms that focus on the emergence of the prosperous temperate regions, re-peopled, until recently, mainly by whites.
In the half-century after 1492, the most prosperous and powerful parts of Europe (Spain backed by Northern Italian finance) conquered the most powerful and prosperous parts of the Americas (the Aztec and Inca Empires).
The subtropical empire that the Spanish acquired generated gold and silver exports, and incomes that were likely higher than in the rest of Europe.
Yet within less than three centuries, the centre of economic gravity both in Europe and in the Americas had shifted north, and the income gap between the temperate and sub-tropical regions had moved decisively in favour of the former.
South of the equator, a parallel, if less-pronounced, shift occurred as coffee production and, later still, industrial activities in the southeast generated higher incomes than in the older sugar sectors of northeast Brazil.