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Terrorism: Deterrence May Backfire

Author

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Simon Luechinger

Abstract

Present anti-terrorist policy concentrates almost exclusively on deterrence. It seeks to fend off terrorism by raising the cost of undertaking terrorist acts. This paper argues that deterrence policy is less effective than generally thought and induces in some cases even more terrorism. This is, in particular, the case if deterrence policy induces a centralisation of decision-making in the polity and economy. Therefore, an effective anti-terrorist policy should focus more on reducing the expected benefits of terrorist acts to prospective terrorists. Such a policy is based on strengthening rather than weakening decentralised decision-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger, "undated". "Terrorism: Deterrence May Backfire," IEW - Working Papers 136, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:136
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    File URL: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_iew/iewwp136.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Atkinson, Scott E & Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John, 1987. "Terrorism in a Bargaining Framework," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-21, April.
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    4. Lapan, Harvey E & Sandler, Todd, 1988. "To Bargain or Not to Bargain: That Is the Question," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 16-21, May.
    5. Enders, Walter & Sandler, Todd, 1996. "Terrorism and Foreign Direct Investment in Spain and Greece," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 331-352.
    6. Im, Eric Iksoon & Cauley, Jon & Sandler, Todd, 1987. "Cycles and Substitutions in Terrorist Activities: A Spectral Approach," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 238-255.
    7. Richard Kirk, 1983. "Political terrorism and the size of government: A positive institutional analysis of violent political activity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 41-52, January.
    8. Sandler, Todd & Lapan, Harvey E., 1988. "The Calculus of Dissent: An Analysis of Terrorists' Choice of Targets," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10818, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    9. Per Baltzer Overgaard, 1994. "The Scale of Terrorist Attacks as a Signal of Resources," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 38(3), pages 452-478, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Friedrich Schneider & Tilman Brück & Daniel Meierrieks, 2010. "The Economics of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: A Survey (Part I)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1049, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Vicki Bier & Santiago Oliveros & Larry Samuelson, 2006. "Choosing What to Protect: Strategic Defensive Allocation against an Unknown Attacker," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000158, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Berentsen Aleksander & Rocheteau Guillaume, 2003. "On the Friedman Rule in Search Models with Divisible Money," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-21, December.
    4. Jan Schnellenbach, 2006. "Appeasing nihilists? Some economic thoughts on reducing terrorist activity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 301-313, December.
    5. Aleksander Berentsen & Esther Br�gger & Simon L�rtscher, "undated". "On Cheating and Whistle-Blowing," IEW - Working Papers 153, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    6. Ernst Fehr & Joseph Henrich, 2003. "Is Strong Reciprocity a Maladaptation? On the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Altruism," CESifo Working Paper Series 859, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger, 2005. "Measuring terrorism," Chapters, in: Alain Marciano & Jean-Michel Josselin (ed.), Law and the State, chapter 6, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Enrico De Giorgi & Stefan Reimann, "undated". "The ?-Beauty Contest: Choosing Numbers, Thinking Intervals," IEW - Working Papers 183, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    9. Entorf, 2005. "Islamistischer Terrorismus: Analysen, Entwicklungen und Anti- Terror-Politik aus der Sicht ökonomischer Forschung," General Economics and Teaching 0508001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Friedrich Schneider & Tilman Brück & Daniel Meierrieks, 2010. "The Economics of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: A Survey (Part II)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1050, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Terrorism; Deterrence; Decentralization; Democracy; Federalism; Market Economy; Rational Choice; Motivation;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F00 - International Economics - - General - - - General
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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