The Relationship between Income and Terrorism

Link of the day: The Changing Nonlinear Relationship between Income and Terrorism

This is a nice paper about terrorism and income.

We devise a terrorism Lorenz curve to show that domestic and transnational terrorist attacks are each more concentrated in middle-income countries, thereby suggesting a nonlinear income–terrorism relationship.

They also give quite an interesting overview of the history of international terrorism.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the secular leftists, including the nationalist Palestinian and Irish groups, were the dominant transnational terrorist influence. […] By the early 1990s, religious fundamentalist terrorists gained ground as a dominant terrorist force (Enders and Sandler 2000; Hoffman 2006). Unlike the leftists who generally wanted to limit collateral damage,6 the fundamentalists wanted to maximize death tolls as 9/11 and the Madrid commuter train bombings demonstrated.


As the composition of terrorist groups changed to include fewer leftists and many more religious fundamentalists around the early 1990s (Rapoport 2004; Hoffman 2006), the causal link between per capita GDP and terrorism is likely to have changed. This follows because the leftists staged many of their attacks in rich countries during the 1970s and 1980s, while the religious fundamentalists directed their attacks against targets of opportunities in poor countries after the early 1990s (e.g., Americans in the Middle East or Asia). As homeland security improved following 9/11, these transnational terrorist attacks shifted to poorer countries with less border security, where foreign interests were targeted

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