What Makes a Terrorist

What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism (New Edition)

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    What Makes a Terrorist
    Book Description:

    Many popular ideas about terrorists and why they seek to harm us are fueled by falsehoods and misinformation. Leading politicians and scholars have argued that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class, and often college-educated, backgrounds. InWhat Makes a Terrorist, Alan Krueger argues that if we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do.

    Krueger is an influential economist who has applied rigorous statistical analysis to a range of tough issues, from the minimum wage and education to the occurrence of hate crimes. In this book, he explains why our tactics in the fight against terrorism must be based on more than anecdote and speculation. Krueger closely examines the factors that motivate individuals to participate in terrorism, drawing inferences from terrorists' own backgrounds and the economic, social, and political conditions in the societies from which they come. He describes which countries are the most likely breeding grounds for terrorists, and which ones are most likely to be their targets. Krueger addresses the economic and psychological consequences of terrorism. He puts the terrorist threat squarely into perspective, revealing how our nation's sizeable economy is diverse and resilient enough to withstand the comparatively limited effects of most terrorist strikes. And he calls on the media to be more responsible in reporting on terrorism.

    What Makes a Terroristbrings needed clarity to one of the greatest challenges of our time.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2883-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    IN THE WAKE of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, policy makers, scholars, and ordinary citizens asked a key question: Why did they attack us? What would make someone willing to give up his (or her) life to wreak mass destruction in a foreign land?

    In short, what makes a terrorist?

    Although the answer to this question is complex and surely varies from case to case, many turned to a simple explanation: economic deprivation and a lack of education cause people to adopt extreme views and turn to terrorism. This explanation appealed to a wide range of people, from...

  5. 1 Who Becomes a Terrorist? Characteristics of Individual Participants in Terrorism
    (pp. 11-52)

    FOR THE PAST six years or so I have been studying various aspects of the economics of terrorism. This lecture asks why individuals participate in terrorism: What are their characteristics? Can we infer something about their motivation, the causes behind their participation, from their characteristics and family backgrounds?

    I am often asked, “What does this have to do with economics? Why would an economist choose to work on this topic?”

    I have two answers, one somewhat flip and the other more serious—although I believe that both are valid. The flip answer is that participation in terrorism is just a...

  6. 2 Where Does Terror Emerge? Economic and Political Conditions and Terrorism
    (pp. 53-104)

    IN THIS LECTURE I consider the macro evidence on terrorism, at the society or country level. I begin by discussing the data that the U. S. government collects on international terrorism. In the course of my research I quickly discovered that there is a burning need for better data on the frequency and lethality of terrorist activity, underscored by the entertaining but ultimately sad anecdote I include here, recounting how the government bungled the assembly of its most authoritative data on terrorism. I nevertheless analyze the imperfect data that are available and conclude with a summary of some new evidence...

  7. 3 What Does Terrorism Accomplish? Economic, Psychological, and Political Consequences of Terrorism
    (pp. 105-142)

    THE FIRST LECTURE summarized micro-level evidence on participation in terrorism. The second examined terrorism at a more aggregate level, determining which countries tend to be origins for terrorists and which ones tend to be targets of terrorism. In this third lecture I consider the consequences of terrorism. This is the area where I personally have done the least research. I offer my interpretation of the literature, referring along the way to some of the work that I have done. I focus first on the economic consequences of terrorist attacks. Then I turn to their psychological consequences, followed by some comments...

  8. Questions and Answers Following the Lectures
    (pp. 143-162)

    Q: Your data showing a positive correlation between education and terrorism appear to be drawn largely from Islamic countries. Evidence from these countries is contradicted by evidence from Northern Ireland, where terrorism is conducted by a maligned minority. Is it, therefore, not possible that the link between further education and terrorism is specific to Islamic countries, such as Pakistan or Turkey, and so could a solution not be more tolerant education, broader education, rather than less education?

    A: You make a valid point and pose a complex question. I can tell you that the research on the Latin American terrorist...

    (pp. 163-176)

    The test of a statistical model is whether it can predict phenomena beyond those in the original sample. The test of a book is whether it gets good reviews and sells many copies. The test of scholarly research, I would argue, is whether it provides compelling answers to important questions; leads to additional, insightful research; and advances the public discourse in a positive direction. It is still early to evaluateWhat Makes a Terroriston these dimensions—and certainly that task should not be left to the author—but the appearance of the paperback edition of the book provides an...

    (pp. 177-186)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 187-194)