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Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism

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  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Claude Berrebi
  • Esteban F. Klor

Abstract

We analyze the link between economic conditions and the quality of suicide terrorism. While the existing empirical literature shows that poverty and economic conditions are not correlated with the quantity of terror, theory predicts that poverty and poor economic conditions may affect the quality of terror. Poor economic conditions may lead more able, better-educated individuals to participate in terror attacks, allowing terror organizations to send better-qualified terrorists to more complex, higher-impact, terror missions. Using the universe of Palestinian suicide terrorists against Israeli targets between the years 2000 and 2006 we provide evidence on the correlation between economic conditions, the characteristics of suicide terrorists and the targets they attack. High levels of unemployment enable terror organizations to recruit more educated, mature and experienced suicide terrorists who in turn attack more important Israeli targets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16320.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Publication status: published as Benmelech, Efraim, Claude Berrebi and Esteban Klor. 2012. Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism. Journal of Politics. 74: 113-128.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16320

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  1. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "The Economic Cost of Harboring Terrorism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(2), pages 331-353, April.
  2. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2008. "The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1591-1604, September.
  3. Abadie, Alberto, 2004. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," Working Paper Series rwp04-043, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510, November.
  5. Claude Berrebi, 2003. "Evidence About the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians," Working Papers 856, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. David A. Jaeger & Esteban F. Klor & Sami H. Miaari & M. Daniele Paserman, 2008. "The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada," NBER Working Papers 13956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jaeger, David A. & Paserman, Daniele, 2006. "Israel, the Palestinian Factions, and the Cycle of Violence," IZA Discussion Papers 1923, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Claude Berrebi & Darius Lakdawalla, 2007. "How Does Terrorism Risk Vary Across Space And Time? An Analysis Based On The Israeli Experience," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(2), pages 113-131.
  9. de Mesquita, Ethan Bueno, 2008. "Terrorist Factions," International Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 399-418, December.
  10. Claude Berrebi & Esteban Klor, 2004. "On Terrorism and Electoral Outcomes: Theory and Evidence from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Working Papers 859, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Jean-Paul Azam, 2005. "Suicide-bombing as inter-generational investment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 177-198, January.
  12. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2008. "Are Voters Sensitive to Terrorism?: Direct Evidence from the Israeli Electorate," Working Papers 477-1, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  13. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi, 2007. "Human Capital and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 223-238, Summer.
  14. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "Economic conditions and terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 463-478, June.
  15. Konstantinos Drakos & Andreas Gofas, 2006. "In Search Of The Average Transnational Terrorist Attack Venue," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 73-93.
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Cited by:
  1. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2012. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2897-2922, October.
  2. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510, November.
  3. Gardeazabal, Javier, 2011. "Linguistic Polarization and Conflict in the Basque Country," DFAEII Working Papers 2011-02, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  4. Hull, Peter & Imai, Masami, 2013. "Economic shocks and civil conflict: Evidence from foreign interest rate movements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 77-89.
  5. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "The Economic Cost of Harboring Terrorism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(2), pages 331-353, April.
  6. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2012. "Winning hearts and minds through development ? evidence from a field experiment in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6129, The World Bank.
  7. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2011. "Does Harboring Terrorists Have Economic Costs?," EUSECON Policy Briefing 12, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2012. "Do Poor Economic Conditions Affect Terrorism?," EUSECON Policy Briefing 15, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban Klor, 2010. "Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions," NBER Working Papers 16493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Radha Iyengar & Jonathan Monten & Matthew Hanson, 2011. "Building Peace: The Impact of Aid on the Labor Market for Insurgents," NBER Working Papers 17297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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