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The Promise of Freedom: Fertility Decisions and the Escape from Slavery

Treb Allen

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2015, vol. 97, issue 2, 472-484

Abstract: This paper examines how the fertility of enslaved women was affected by the promise of freedom. Exploiting geographic variation in the effect of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, I demonstrate a negative correlation between fertility and the distance to freedom. This negative correlation is stronger on larger plantations but weaker when the slaveholder is a woman. A similar correlation is not present for white children, slave children with white fathers, or slave children born prior to the Fugitive Slave Law. The negative correlation suggests that the promise of freedom played an important role in the everyday lives of slaves. © 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Keywords: fertility; enslaved; women; freedom; exploiting; Fugitive Slave Law of 1850; geographic variation; slaveholder; white children; slave children; Fugitive Slave Law; slaves (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J0 J79 N00 N31 N71 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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The Review of Economics and Statistics is currently edited by Pierre Azoulay, Olivier Coibion, Will Dobbie, Raymond Fisman, Benjamin R. Handel, Brian A. Jacob, Kareen Rozen, Xiaoxia Shi, Tavneet Suri and Yi Xu

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