Land reform and rural conflict. Evidence from 1930s Spain Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2023


  • 89

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0014-4983

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1090-2457


  • Re-distributive policies are often used by governments to forestall conflict. This paper analyzes the evolution of rural conflict in a region of 1930s Spain in which fast transfers of land using temporal expropriations were aimed at reducing poverty and mitigate conflict. Using a subset of exogenous land transfers, we document that these transfers did not reduce conflict. If anything, they increased some types of conflicts for several months after implementation. The short run increase in conflict is consistent with two potential side effects of land reforms. First, land reforms can boost the collective action of beneficiaries. Second, poorly designed reforms can reduce the incomes of beneficiaries.


  • civil war; conflict; interwar europe; land reform; property rights; revolution; socialism; spain