Discussion paper

DP7995 Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism

We analyze the link between economic conditions and the quality of suicide terrorism. While the existing empirical literature shows that poverty and economic conditions are not correlated with the quantity of terror, theory predicts that poverty and poor economic conditions may affect the quality of terror. 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.


Klor, E, C Berrebi and E Benmelech (2010), ‘DP7995 Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism ‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 7995. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp7995