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

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Listed:
  • Claude Berrebi

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:477
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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..
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    10. 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.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    terrorism; poverty; education; Hamas; suicide bomber;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P45 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - International Linkages

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