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We study the long-term effects of intergroup contact on nation building by exploiting a national lottery that randomly allocated conscripts to different military areas across Spain. For men born in regions that feature a weak Spanish identity, we find that being assigned to military service in a different region substantially increases self-identification as Spanish, increases the likelihood of voting in national elections and reduces the probability of voting for a regionalist party. Moreover, in support of intergroup contact as the main mechanism behind these results, we find that movers are more likely than nonmovers to have friends from other regions.
intergroup contact; military service; nation building