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Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?

Author

Listed:
  • Alan B. Krueger
  • Jitka Maleckova

Abstract

The paper investigates whether there is a causal link between poverty or low education and participation in politically motivated violence and terrorist activities. After presenting a discussion of theoretical issues, we review evidence on the determinants of hate crimes. This literature finds that the occurrence of hate crimes is largely independent of economic conditions. Next we analyze data on support for attacks against Israeli targets from public opinion polls conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These polls indicate that support for violent attacks does not decrease among those with higher education and higher living standards. The core contribution of the paper is a statistical analysis of the determinants of participation in Hezbollah militant activities in Lebanon. The evidence we have assembled suggests that having a living standard above the poverty line or a secondary school or higher education is positively associated with participation in Hezbollah. We also find that Israeli Jewish settlers who attacked Palestinians in the West Bank in the early 1980s were overwhelmingly from high-paying occupations. The conclusion speculates on why economic conditions and education are largely unrelated to participation in, and support for, terrorism.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9074
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
    2. Alan B. Krueger & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "A Statistical Analysis of Crime against Foreigners in Unified Germany," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(1), pages 182-209.
    3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    4. Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John T. & Cauley, Jon, 1983. "A Theoretical Analysis of Transnational Terrorism," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 36-54, March.
    5. Manski, Charles F & Lerman, Steven R, 1977. "The Estimation of Choice Probabilities from Choice Based Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(8), pages 1977-1988, November.
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    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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