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Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias

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  • Eli Berman

Abstract

Can rational choice modeling explain destructive behavior among the Taliban, Hama and other radical religious militias? This paper proposes a club good framework which emphasizes the function of voluntary religious organizations as efficient providers of local public goods in the absence of government provision. The sacrifices which these groups demand are economically efficient (as in Iannaccone (1992)) and make them well suited for solving the extreme principal-agent problems present in militia production. Thus the analysis can explain why religious radicals create such effective militias. Seemingly gratuitous acts of violence by group members destroy their outside options, increasing the incentive compatibility of loyalty. The analysis has clear implications for economic policy to contain militias.

Suggested Citation

  • Eli Berman, 2003. "Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias," NBER Working Papers 10004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. repec:pri:rpdevs:krueger_maleckova_education_poverty_political is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
    4. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
    5. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2002. "Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," NBER Working Papers 9074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:pri:rpdevs:krueger_maleckova_education_poverty_political.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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