This paper examines the long-term effect of conflict on trust by using changes in places and timing of combats during World War II. We focus on the pre-school period, an important life stage for the formation of trust and an age where war exposure may persist throughout life. We find robust evidence that individuals exposed to combats in the first six years of life display lower trust and social engagement well into adulthood. In light of the well-known relationship between trust and collective action, our results lend credence to the theory that violent conflict inhibits well-functioning government in long run.
Conzo, P., & Salustri, F. (2019). A war is forever: The long-run effects of early exposure to World War II on trust. EUROPEAN ECONOMIC REVIEW, 120, 103313 [10.1016/j.euroecorev.2019.103313].