Given how slaves cost tens of thousands of dollars in today's money at the time of the American Civil War, I was surprised to read in a number of places (Wikipedia, Reuters, CNN) that the average price of a slave today is $90. The ultimate source for these claims appears to be University of Nottingham professor Kevin Bales. In a paper, he asserts that "slaves [are] less expensive today than at any time in the past", based on field observations.

Is this figure accurate? Are there independent sources that back it up?

  • 8
    You have a book by a university professor, and two reputable news organizations, What would you consider an "independent source" if they are not? Oct 17, 2020 at 0:23
  • 3
    I'd worry of a cherry pick... In what time and place? Surely slave pricing hasn't been relatively constant in the Americas?
    – fredsbend
    Oct 17, 2020 at 1:43
  • 5
    @DJClayworth By "independent" I mean not relying on Bales's figures. Not to say they are untrustworthy, but I'd like to see it backed up by other sources. Oct 17, 2020 at 21:40
  • 6
    The wikipedia article touches a few possible reasons - mainly that slaves are not necessarily bought or traded at all. Many get into such a dependency relation through poverty and despair, possibly semi-deliberal. Some even pay someone to be transferred to a first-world country in hope of a better life, but end up in slavery instead. And the usefullness/value for the "owner" may be reduced by slavery being illegal, as it makes it impossible (or at least risky) to use them openly.
    – Hulk
    Oct 19, 2020 at 15:54
  • 8
    Another possible reason would be if the bulk of todays slavery happens in less developed countries.
    – Hulk
    Oct 19, 2020 at 16:00


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