Beyond profitability. The Dutch transatlantic slave trade and its economic impact

Matthias van Rossum, Karwan Fatah-Black

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Dutch research into the slave trade and its importance to the Dutch economy has often limited itself to investigating the financial success of slave trading companies, calculating the success of slaving by its profit rates. The central argument made in this article is that grossmargin is a better indicator for the importance of the slave trade to the Dutch Republic. Even if a slave trading company did not make a net profit on a voyage, such a voyage led to extra activities such as shipbuilding or the production of trade goods. This article provides a reconstruction of this gross margin for the entire period that the Dutch were engaged in the trans-Atlantic slave trade by combining the most recent data on the size of the slave trade (including illicit trade) with data on both African and American price data of slaves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages22
JournalSlavery & Abolition
Issue number1
Early online date01 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Slavery
  • Slave trade
  • Impact
  • Profit
  • Dutch Republic
  • Atlantic system


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