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Evidence About the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians

Listed author(s):
  • Claude Berrebi

    (Princeton University)

The primary goal of this paper is to investigate whether participation in terrorist activity can be linked to ignorance (measured through schooling) or to economic desperation (measured through poverty on the individual's level and various economic indicators on the societal level) using newly culled data of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist cells. This paper performs a statistical analysis of the determinants of participation in Hamas and PIJ terrorist activities in Israel from the late 1980s to the present, as well as a time series analysis of terrorist attacks in Israel with relation to economic conditions. The resulting evidence on the individual level suggests that both higher standards of living and higher levels of education are positively associated with participation in Hamas or PIJ. With regard to the societal economic condition, no sustainable link between terrorism and poverty and education could be found, which I interpret to mean that there is either no link or a very weak indirect link. Special attention is given to the suicide bomber phenomenon, and the analysis of the determinants of becoming a suicide bomber provides additional intriguing findings. In contrast with the classic characteristics of a suicidal individual (Hamermesh and Soss, 1974), suicide bombers tend to be of higher economic status and higher educational attainment than their counterparts in the population. Suicide bombers, however, come from lower socioeconomic groups when compared to other, non-suicidal, terrorists.

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File URL: http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/bitstream/88435/dsp01bk1289895/1/477.pdf
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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 856.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:477
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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. Bloemen, Hans G & Stancanelli, Elena G F, 2001. "Individual Wealth, Reservation Wages, and Transitions into Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 400-439, April.
  3. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/9704 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Angrist, Joshua D, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1065-1087, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
  7. 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.
  8. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
  9. 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.
  10. Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-340, July.
  11. 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.
  12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
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