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An Economist Looks at Suicide Terrorism

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  • Mark Harrison

Abstract

Suicide terrorism has an economic aspect. The organisation of a suicide mission requires an incentive, a voluntary transaction, and a contract that is enforceable by the parties to it. A terrorist faction that competes for power in a community that is both oppressed and oppressive provides young people with an incentive to invest in an identity that is rendered more valuable by death. Suicide attacks are then the outcome of a voluntary agreement between the faction and the young person to trade life for identity. The institution of the “living martyr†renders the agreement privately enforceable. Thus, suicide terrorism is the outcome of an individual rational choice. There are some implications for counter-measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Harrison, 2006. "An Economist Looks at Suicide Terrorism," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(3), pages 1-15, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:wej:wldecn:246
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    Cited by:

    1. Friedrich Schneider & Tilman Brück & Daniel Meierrieks, 2010. "The Economics of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: A Survey (Part I)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1049, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Freytag, Andreas & Krüger, Jens J. & Meierrieks, Daniel & Schneider, Friedrich, 2011. "The origins of terrorism: Cross-country estimates of socio-economic determinants of terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(S1), pages 5-16.
    3. Beckmann, Klaus, 2007. "Jon Elster und das Zeitinkonsistenz-Problem," Discussion Papers 2007-21, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Chair of Economic Ethics.
    4. Harrison, Mark, 2013. "The Economics of Coercion and Conflict: an Introduction," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 151, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. Ismail, Aisha & Amjad, Shehla, 2014. "Determinants of terrorism in Pakistan: An empirical investigation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 320-331.
    6. Apolte, Thomas, 2017. "I hope I die before I get old: The supply side of the market for suicide bombers," CIW Discussion Papers 1/2017, University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW).

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