The Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War

71 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2020

See all articles by Ana Tur-Prats

Ana Tur-Prats

University of California, Merced - Department of Economics

Felipe Valencia Caicedo

Vancouver School of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 15, 2020


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 decompose 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.

Keywords: Conflict, Civil War, Political Repression, Spain, History, Trust, Voting, Collective Memory, Political Propaganda

JEL Classification: D72, D74, N14, Z10

Suggested Citation

Tur-Prats, Ana and Valencia Caicedo, Felipe, The Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War (July 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Ana Tur-Prats

University of California, Merced - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

Felipe Valencia Caicedo (Contact Author)

Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

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