View Full Version : Harvard Researcher: Terrorism Correlated With Freedoms Rather than SES

Judah Maccabee
8th November 04, 11:46 PM
SES = Socioeconomic Status.


Though after the 9/11 attacks most of the work in this area has focused on international terrorism, Abadie said terrorism originating within the country where the attacks occur actually makes up the bulk of terrorist acts each year. According to statistics from the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base for 2003, which Abadie cites in his analysis, there were 1,536 reports of domestic terrorism worldwide, compared with just 240 incidents of international terrorism.

Before analyzing the data, Abadie believed it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty, especially since studies have linked civil war to economic factors. However, once the data was corrected for the influence of other factors studied, Abadie said he found no significant relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences.

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism. Though terrorism declined among nations with high levels of political freedom, it was the intermediate nations that seemed most vulnerable.

Like those with much political freedom, nations at the other extreme - with tightly controlled autocratic governments - also experienced low levels of terrorism.

Though his study didn't explore the reasons behind the trends he researched, Abadie said it could be that autocratic nations' tight control and repressive practices keep terrorist activities in check, while nations making the transition to more open, democratic governments - such as currently taking place in Iraq and Russia - may be politically unstable, which makes them more vulnerable.

"When you go from an autocratic regime and make the transition to democracy, you may expect a temporary increase in terrorism," Abadie said.

Abadie's study also found a strong connection in the data between terrorism and geographic factors, such as elevation or tropical weather.

"Failure to eradicate terrorism in some areas of the world has often been attributed to geographic barriers, like mountainous terrain in Afghanistan or tropical jungle in Colombia. This study provides empirical evidence of the link between terrorism and geography," Abadie said.

Interesting. This researcher is a Harvard prof who grew up in the Basque region of Spain, which as I'm sure most of you know, has a historical and current place as a source of domestic terrorism between Spain and the Basque separatists looking for their own autonomous homeland.

http://ksghome.harvard.edu/~aabadie/research.html is the professor's research page.

http://ksghome.harvard.edu/~.aabadie.academic.ksg/povterr.pdf is a PDF file of the study in question. The abstract:

This article provides an empirical investigation of the determinants of terrorism at the country level. In contrast with the previous literature on this subject, which focuses on transnational terrorism only, I use a new measure of terrorism that encompasses both domestic and transnational terrorism. In line with the results of some recent studies, this article shows that terrorist risk is not significantly higher for poorer countries, once the effects of other country-specific characteristics such as the level of political freedom are taken into account. Political freedom is shown to explain terrorism, but it does so in a non-monotonic way: countries in some intermediate range of political freedom are shown to be more prone to terrorism than countries with high levels of political freedom or countries with highly authoritarian regimes. This result suggests that, as experienced recently in Iraq and previously in Spain and Russia, transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism. Finally, the results suggest that geographic factors are important to sustain terrorist activities


Judah Maccabee
9th November 04, 01:08 AM
* hump hump hump hump hump hump hump hump *

wow steve i always assumed that the people were just frustrated from not having what the prosperous countries had at their expense

9th November 04, 03:17 AM
Interesting. This researcher is a Harvard prof who grew up in the Basque region of Spain, which as I'm sure most of you know, has a historical and current place as a source of domestic terrorism between Spain and the Basque separatists looking for their own autonomous homeland.

And btw, one of the most wealthy an industrialized parts of Spain since XIX century.

Today, and since 1979 (http://www.igsap.map.es/cia/dispo/25072.htm#t1), the spanish part of the Basque Country is an "autonomous community", don't know exactly how is in the french side. You are a bit uninformed. What the basque separatists are looking for (some of them using terrorism as a tool) is secession/independence.

Some moderated basque separatists had proposed a "free associated state" relationship between Basque Country and Spain (something like Puerto Rico - USA).

Where i live, a comparatively poor region, separatist terrorism started, and ended mainly by lack of people's support, in the mid 80's of the past century.

The Wastrel
9th November 04, 10:36 AM
There are some problems with this study. Look at the coefficients on linguistic fractionalization, and then ask whether the economic and political rights datasets successfully distinguished between groups.

The Wastrel
9th November 04, 02:43 PM
Upon further reading, this paper is theoretically weak. Using GDP per capita as an indicator of economic prosperity fails to challenge the idea that economic disparity leads to terrorism. We do not expect Papua New Guinea to have more than Russia.

This is a classic example of why you should have a theory in hand before you run numbers.

Let me know when this gets published in a premiere journal rather than an in-house stepping stone.