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Does Terrorism Work?

  • Eric D. Gould

    (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Centre for Economic Policy Research, and Institute for the Study of Labor.)

  • Esteban F. Klor

    (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Centre for Economic Policy Research.)

This paper examines whether terrorism is an effective tool for achieving political goals. By exploiting geographic variation in terror attacks in Israel from 1988 to 2006, we show that local terror attacks cause Israelis to be more willing to grant territorial concessions to the Palestinians. These effects are stronger for demographic groups that are traditionally right-wing in their political views. However, terror attacks beyond a certain threshold cause Israelis to adopt a less accommodating position. In addition, terror induces Israelis to vote increasingly for right-wing parties, as the right-wing parties move to the left in response to terror. Hence, terrorism appears to be an effective strategy in terms of shifting the entire political landscape to the left, although we do not assess whether it is more effective than non-violent means. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1459-1510

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:4:p:1459-1510
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  1. Jaeger, David A. & Klor, Esteban F. & Miaari, Sami H. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2008. "The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada," IZA Discussion Papers 3439, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. 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..
  8. Benmelech, Efraim & Berrebi, Claude & Klor, Esteban F, 2010. "Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism," CEPR Discussion Papers 7995, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Alberto Abadie, 2006. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 50-56, May.
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  14. Eli Berman & David Laitin, 2005. "Hard Targets: Theory and Evidence on Suicide Attacks," NBER Working Papers 11740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Kydd, Andrew & Walter, Barbara F., 2002. "Sabotaging the Peace: The Politics of Extremist Violence," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 263-296, March.
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  18. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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