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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 Note: LS PR
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10004.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2013. "On The Theory Of Ethnic Conflict," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 161-192, January.
    2. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2004. "Shame and Ostracism: Union Army Deserters Leave Home," NBER Working Papers 10425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jan Schnellenbach, 2006. "Appeasing nihilists? Some economic thoughts on reducing terrorist activity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 301-313, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2004. "The Invisible Hand Plays Dice: Eventualities in Religious Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 1238, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Berrebi Claude, 2007. "Evidence about the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism among Palestinians," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-38, December.
    7. Eli Berman & Jacob N. Shapiro & Joseph H. Felter, 2011. "Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 766-819.
    8. Berman, Eli & Laitin, David D., 2008. "Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1942-1967, October.
    9. Rachel M. McCleary & Leonard W J van der Kuijp, 2007. "The Formation of the Tibetan State Religion: The Geluk School 1419-1642," CID Working Papers 154, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    10. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
    11. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    12. Hajj, Mandana & Panizza, Ugo, 2009. "Religion and education gender gap: Are Muslims different?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 337-344, June.
    13. Kjell Hausken & Dipak K. Gupta, 2016. "Determining the ideological orientation of terrorist organisations: the effects of government repression and organised crime," International Journal of Public Policy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 12(1/2), pages 71-97.
    14. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2012. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2897-2922, October.
    15. Panu Poutvaara & Andreas Wagener, 2010. "The invisible hand plays dice: multiple equilibria in sects markets," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 483-502, December.
    16. Makowsky, Michael, 2009. "Religious Extremism, Clubs, and Civil Liberties: A Model of Religious Populations," MPRA Paper 14358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Ronald Wintrobe, 2006. "Extremism, suicide terror, and authoritarianism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 169-195, July.
    18. Bradley J. Ruffle & Richard H. Sosis, 2003. "Does It Pay To Pray? Evaluating the Economic Return to Religious Ritual," Experimental 0309002, EconWPA.
    19. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi, 2007. "Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and The Productivity of Suicide Bombers," NBER Working Papers 12910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Michael McBride & Gary Richardson, 2012. "Stopping Suicide Attacks: Optimal Strategies and Unintended Consequences," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 413-429, October.
    21. Ronald Wintrobe, 2006. "Extremism, Suicide Terror, and Authoritarism," ICER Working Papers 8-2006, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    22. 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.
    23. Peter Hilsenrath, 2005. "Health Policy As Counter-Terrorism: Health Services And The Palestinians," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(5), pages 365-374.
    24. Pierre-Emmanuel Ly, 2007. "The charitable activities of terrorist organizations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 177-195, April.
    25. Michael Munger, 2006. "Preference modification vs. incentive manipulation as tools of terrorist recruitment: The role of culture," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 131-146, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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