Part of an abstract from a paper by Nathan Nunn and Leonard Wantchekon:
We investigate the historical origins of mistrust within Africa. Combining contemporary household survey data with historic data on slave shipments by ethnic group, we show that individuals whose ancestors were heavily threatened by the slave trade today exhibit less trust in neighbors, family co-ethnics, and their local government.
Full paper here (pdf). I used to dismiss this kind of long-term historical damage. But the evidence increasingly suggests that history really does matter; that the collective psyche can be traumatized from generation to generation. In some ways, a Burkean should not in any way be surprised. And that's why, of course, each fresh trauma - one thinks of what has happened in Iraq for the last twenty years - is often more damaging than even the present suggests. I mean: do we really think the next generation of Iraqis will easily function as well-adjusted adults, building the trust necessary for real democracy? The odds are against it.
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