The Poverty of Slavery

How Unfree Labor Pollutes the Economy

  • Robert E. Wright

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 1-17
  3. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 19-38
  4. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 39-71
  5. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 73-115
  6. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 117-141
  7. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 143-197
  8. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 199-232
  9. Robert E. Wright
    Pages 233-247
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 249-302

About this book


This ground-breaking book adds an economic angle to a traditionally moral argument, demonstrating that slavery has never promoted economic growth or development, neither today nor in the past. While unfree labor may be lucrative for slaveholders, its negative effects on a country’s economy, much like pollution, drag down all members of society. Tracing the history of slavery around the world, from prehistory through the US Antebellum South to the present day, Wright illustrates how slaveholders burden communities and governments with the task of maintaining the system while preventing productive individuals from participating in the economy.

Historians, economists, policymakers, and anti-slavery activists need no longer apologize for opposing the dubious benefits of unfree labor. Wright provides a valuable resource for exposing the hidden price tag of slaving to help them pitch antislavery policies as matters of both human rights and economic well-being.


negative externality human trafficking forced labor sex slavery sexual exploitation labor chattel coerced labor emancipation market failure abolition

Authors and affiliations

  • Robert E. Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.Augustana UniversitySioux FallsUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Economics and Finance
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-48967-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-48968-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking