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Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism

  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Claude Berrebi
  • Esteban F. Klor

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16320.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16320.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Publication status: published as Benmelech, Efraim, Claude Berrebi and Esteban Klor. 2012. Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism. Journal of Politics. 74: 113-128.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16320
Note: ED LS POL
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  1. Alberto Abadie, 2004. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," NBER Working Papers 10859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. de Mesquita, Ethan Bueno, 2008. "Terrorist Factions," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 399-418, December.
  4. Jaeger, David A & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2005. "The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," CEPR Discussion Papers 5320, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Gould, Eric D & Klor, Esteban F, 2009. "Does Terrorism Work?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7589, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Israel, the Palestinian Factions, and the Cycle of Violence," Working Papers 23, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  8. 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.
  9. 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..
  10. 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.
  11. David A. Jaeger & Esteban Klor & Sami Miaari & Daniele Paserman, 2008. "The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada," HiCN Working Papers 52, Households in Conflict Network.
  12. Claude Berrebi, 2003. "Evidence About the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians," Working Papers 856, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Azam, Jean-Paul, 2003. "Suicide-Bombing as Inter-Generational Investment," IDEI Working Papers 234, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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