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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism," NBER Working Papers 16320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16320
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jaeger, David A. & Klor, Esteban F. & Miaari, Sami H. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2012. "The struggle for Palestinian hearts and minds: Violence and public opinion in the Second Intifada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 354-368.
    2. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2004. "On Terrorism and Electoral Outcomes: Theory and Evidence from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Working Papers 4, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. 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.
    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. 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.
    6. Alberto Abadie, 2006. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 50-56, May.
    7. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510.
    8. 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.
    9. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
    10. Krueger, Alan B., 2008. "What makes a homegrown terrorist? Human capital and participation in domestic Islamic terrorist groups in the U.S.A," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 293-296, December.
    11. 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.
    12. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2006. "Israel, the Palestinian Factions, and the Cycle of Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 45-49, May.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2008. "Are Voters Sensitive to Terrorism?: Direct Evidence from the Israeli Electorate," Working Papers 477-1, RAND Corporation.
    16. de Mesquita, Ethan Bueno, 2008. "Terrorist Factions," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 399-418, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Javier Gardeazabal, 2011. "Linguistic polarization and conflict in the Basque Country," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 405-425, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Andra Filote & Niklas Potrafke & Heinrich Ursprung, 2016. "Suicide attacks and religious cleavages," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 3-28, January.
    4. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2011. "Does Harboring Terrorists Have Economic Costs?," EUSECON Policy Briefing 12, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2016. "The Long‐run Effect of 9/11: Terrorism, Backlash, and the Assimilation of Muslim Immigrants in the West," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(597), pages 2064-2114, November.
    6. Efraim Benmelech & Claude Berrebi & Esteban Klor, 2010. "Counter-Suicide-Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions," NBER Working Papers 16493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Eric D. Gould & Esteban F. Klor, 2010. "Does Terrorism Work?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1459-1510.
    9. Caruso Raul & Gavrilova Evelina, 2012. "Youth Unemployment, Terrorism and Political Violence, Evidence from the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-37, August.
    10. Claude Berrebi & Esteban F. Klor, 2012. "Do Poor Economic Conditions Affect Terrorism?," EUSECON Policy Briefing 15, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. 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.
    12. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2012. "The Strategy of Manipulating Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2897-2922, October.
    13. Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, 2013. "Rebel Tactics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(2), pages 323-357.
    14. Malečková Jitka & Stanišić Dragana, 2013. "Does Higher Education Decrease Support for Terrorism?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 343-358, December.
    15. Richard Estes & M. Sirgy, 2014. "Radical Islamic Militancy and Acts of Terrorism: A Quality-of-Life Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 615-652, June.
    16. Beath,Andrew & Christia,Fotini & Enikolopov,Ruben & 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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