Discussion paper

DP15091 The Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was one of the most devastating conflicts of the twentieth century, yet little is known about its long-term legacy. We show that the war had a long-lasting effect on social capital, voting behavior and collective memory. To this end we use geo-located data on historical mass graves, disaggregated modern-day survey data on trust, combined with modern electoral results. For econometric identification, we exploit deviations from the initial military plans of attack, using the historical (1931) highway network. We also employ a geographical Regression Discontinuity Design along the Aragon Front. Our results show a significant, negative and sizable relationship between political violence and generalized trust. We further scrutinize the trust results, finding negative effects of conflict on trust in institutions associated with the Civil War, but no effects when looking at trust on Post 1975 democratic institutions. We also find long-lasting results on voting during the Democratic Period (1977-2016), corresponding to the sided political repression implemented in the Aragon region. In terms of mechanisms—using a specialized survey on the Civil War, street names data and Francoist newsreels about the war—we find lower levels of political engagement and differential patterns of collective memory about this traumatic historical event.


Valencia Caicedo, F and A Tur-Prats (2020), ‘DP15091 The Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15091. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15091