The available aggregated data on the Atlantic slave trade in between 1519 and 1875 concern the numbers of slaves transported by a country and the numbers of slaves who arrived at various destinations (where one of the destinations is ‘deceased’). It is however unknown how many slaves, at an aggregate level, were transported to where and by whom; that is, we know the row and column totals, but we do not known the numbers in the cells of the matrix. In this research note, we use a simple mathematical technique to fill in the void. It allows us to estimate trends in the deaths per transporting country, and also to estimate the fraction of slaves who went to the colonies of the transporting country, or to other colonies. For example, we estimate that of all the slaves who were transported by the Dutch only about 7 per cent went to Dutch colonies, whereas for the Portuguese this number is about 37 per cent.

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Econometric Institute Reprint Series
International Journal of Maritime History
Department of Econometrics

Franses, Ph.H.B.F, & van den Heuvel, W. (2018). Aggregate statistics on trafficker-destination relations in the Atlantic slave trade. International Journal of Maritime History, 31(3), 624–633. doi:10.1177/0843871419864226