Poverty and terrorism

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.

A new working paper from Efraim Benmelech, Claude Berrebi, and Esteban Klor.

This ties with a growing body of evidence that suggests that economic shocks help intensify conflicts but not necessarily increase their likelihood. See also a terrific paper by Oeindrila Dube and Juan Vargas on Colombian paramilitaries and guerrillas here.