The Continuing Influence of the Institution of Slavery

A paper by Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen entitled “The Political Legacy of American Slavery” shows that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South can be traced back to the influence of slavery’s prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties with high shares of slaves population in 1860 are less likely to identify as Democrat, more likely to oppose affirmative action policies, and more likely to express racial resentment toward blacks. These results hold when controlling for a number of other factors including contemporary shares of black population, urban-rural differences, and Civil War destruction.

Partial U.S. map below showing proportion of the population identified as enslaved in the 1860 census.

Partial U.S. map below showing proportion of the population identified as enslaved in the 1860 census.

You can read the entire report here.

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