The legacy of violence: building or destroying trust? Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia
Author: Chávez Báez, María Alejandra
Publication date: 2021
Content type: Documento de trabajo
This paper examines how trust on institutions and organizations are shaped according to age and exposure to violence during La Violencia. It also evaluates how people's actual trust on different groups (out-group trust) changes in municipalities that were exposed to violence in comparison to municipalities that were not exposed. From 1950's to the mid 1960's, Colombia experienced a period of intense civil wars and conflicts between social classes known as La Violencia. Using evidence on the index of violence built by Guzman et al. (2006) during this period and the Political Culture Survey of 2019, the main objective of this paper is to find whether people trust on State's institutions and people from different groups in municipalities that were mostly affected by violence. To complement the analysis, I analyzed press articles and news by the newspaper El Tiempo from 1950 to 1990 to find how is the perception of the State's legitimacy. After gathering information on 13,413 interviewees, I found that people who live during La Violencia trust less on government institutions and more on certain groups of people (neighbours). Moreover, people over 84 years-old living in municipalities that were exposed to La Violencia trust less on strangers and immigrants than younger people living in the same municipalities. These findings are supported in two mechanisms: deficient government-citizens relationship over time and risk aversion. That is, people who live in municipalities affected by violence during the bipartisan conflict are more risk averse and therefore show less trust on different groups of people. The revision of press articles suggest that there is a tendency of mistrust on State's actions, at least among high educated individuals.
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