- Slavery and information
- The Journal of Economic History
- Pages (from-to)
- Issue number
- Document type
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
Faculty of Law (FdR)
Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics (ACLE)
Amsterdam Business School Research Institute (ABS-RI)
This article shows how asymmetric information shaped slavery by determining the likelihood of manumission. A theoretical model explains the need to offer positive incentives to slaves working in occupations characterized by a high degree of asymmetric information. As a result, masters freed (and, more generally, rewarded) slaves who performed well. The model's implications are then tested against the available evidence: both in Rome and in the Atlantic world, slaves with high asymmetric information tasks had greater chances of manumission. The analysis also sheds light on the master's choices of carrots versus sticks and of labor versus slavery.
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