Revealing the Relationship Between Ship Crowding and Slave Mortality

  title={Revealing the Relationship Between Ship Crowding and Slave Mortality},
  author={Nicolas J. Duquette},
  journal={The Journal of Economic History},
  pages={535 - 552}
Historical accounts have linked the overcrowded conditions on the Middle Passage to slaves’ ill health and high mortality. A large literature in economic history has failed to find such effects. This note demonstrates the importance of a statistical explanation: missing data. Studies finding no positive relationship between vessel crowding and Middle Passage mortality are driven by an unrepresentative sample of slave voyages. Using simple methods to correct for missing data on voyage duration… 

Visualizing the Middle Passage: The Brooks and the Reality of Ship Crowding in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Crowding on slave ships was much more severe than historians have recognized, worsening in the nineteenth century during the illegal phase of the traffic. An analysis of numerous illustrations of

Ship Crowding and Slave Mortality: Missing Observations or Incorrect Measurement?

Inconsistent measurement of ship tonnage, the denominator in the usual measures of crowded conditions on slave vessels, may confound estimated associations between crowding and slave mortality on the

Being Bad by Being Good: Owner and Captain Value-Added in the Slave Trade

We use slave voyage data from 18th century Great Britain and France to answer two questions: 1) How important was the managerial quality of owners and captains in slave trading? and 2) What explains

Polygamy and child mortality: Historical and modern evidence from Nigeria’s Igbo

Although there is a limited role for polygamist-specific intra-household dynamics and behavioral practices in shaping the mortality of children in such households, the sensitivity of the polygamy-child mortality correlation is consistent with an important role for selection into polygamy, particularly on unobservable characteristics.

Copper Sheathing and the British Slave Trade

type="main"> British slave traders were early and rapid adopters of the new technique of sheathing ships' hulls with copper. From the 1780s this innovation increased sailing speeds of British slave

Ship fever, confinement, and the racialization of disease.

  • C. Blakley
  • History
    Studies in history and philosophy of science
  • 2022

Were slaves cheap laborers? A comparative study of labor costs in the antebellum U.S. South

What was the rationale of exploiting slave laborers instead of employing non-slave laborers? The question has given rise to a long-standing debate among historians. One key controversy in this deba...

Convict Transportation to New South Wales, 1787–1849: Mortality Rates Reconsidered

Previous research into Australian convict transportation has concluded that a significant downturn in mortality rates occurred with the appointment of naval surgeons as superintendents in 1815.


Refusing Demography

  • Reckoning with Slavery



Mortality and voyage length in the middle passage revisited.

The relationship between slave mortality and the length of the middle passage on nine routes during the 18th and 19th centuries is reevaluated to understand whether deaths on individual routes largely resulted from preboarding or on-board conditions or an interaction between preboarding and on- board conditions.

The determinants of slave mortality rates on the middle passage.

The Allotment of Space for Slaves aboard Eighteenth-Century British Slave Ships

HE field of slave trade studies has made rapid advances in the last two decades as scholars have begun to analyze the records of slave voyages available from the archives of Europe and America. Among

The Atlantic Slave Trade

Debates over the economic, social, and political meaning of slavery and the slave trade have persisted for over two hundred years. The Atlantic Slave Trade brings clarity and critical insight to the

Slave Purchasing Strategies and Shipboard Mortality: Day-to-Day Evidence from the Dutch African Trade, 1751–1797

The mortality of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic crossing has long preoccupied historians but the relationship between slave traders' purchasing strategies and slave mortality rates in transit has

The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census.

Curtin combines modern research and statistical methods with his broad knowledge of the field to present the first book-length quantitative analysis of the Atlantic slave trade. Its basic evidence

Mortality and voyage length in the middle passage: new evidence from the nineteenth century.

  • D. Eltis
  • History
    The journal of economic history
  • 1984
New data on mortality and voyage length in the nineteenth-century slave trade make possible further testing of hypotheses on why slaves died during the middle passage, suggesting endemic disease is probably the major explanation.

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

The Voyages website ( provides the most comprehensive source of data currently available on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Forming its core is the Voyages Database,

Mortality in the Eighteenth-Century French Slave Trade

  • R. Stein
  • History, Economics
    The Journal of African History
  • 1980
The eighteenth-century French slave trade claimed the lives of at least 150,000 African captives and 20,000 French crewmembers and slave mortality was lower than crew mortality during the century, although data are lacking to relate mortality either to trading sites in Africa or to Caribbean destinations.

Accounting for the Traffic in Africans: Transport Costs on Slaving Voyages

Relying mainly on the manuscript records of the Royal African Company, we explore the factors that contributed to the large gap between slave prices in Africa and the Caribbean. Twenty-two voyages