The Pennsylvania State University Abstract Recognizing that the empirical literature of the past several years has produced an inconclusive picture, this study revisits the relationship between poverty and terrorism and suggests a new factor to explain patterns of mommies terrorism: minority economic discrimination.
Central to this study is the argument that because terrorism is not a mass phenomenon but rather is undertaken by politically marginal actors with often narrow constituencies, the economic status of substantial groups is a crucial potential predictor of attacks. Using data from the Minorities at Risk project, I determine that countries featuring minority group economic discrimination are significantly more likely to experience domestic terrorist attacks, whereas countries lacking minority groups or whose minorities do not face discrimination are significantly less likely to experience terrorism.
I also find minority economic discrimination to be a strong and substantive predictor of domestic terrorism vise-a -vise the general level of economic development. I conclude with a discussion Of the implications Of the findings for scholarship on terrorism and for counter-terrorism policy. Keywords discrimination, economic development, minorities, terrorism Though it remains a popular thesis among policymakers that poverty causes terrorism, 1 the empirical literature has been inconclusive regarding the link between socioeconomic factors and terrorism.
Studies that use jurisdictional analysis to model the effects of macroeconomic indicators on terrorism fail to show conclusively that impoverished or underdeveloped countries experience higher rates of terrorism, or produce more terrorists, than do See, for example, public statements linking poverty, poor education and unemployment to terrorism made by former Presidents Bush and Clinton in the immediate aftermath of the 1 1 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the wake of the 7 July 2005 suicide bomb attacks in London.
More recently, in January 2009 Stanford address, former President of Pakistan Perez Mustard described poverty and illiteracy as key motivators of global terrorism. Senior counterterrorism adviser to the Obama administration, John O Brenna, poses a more nuanced relationship regarding poverty, among a host of other factors, as a contributing factor to political grievances that themselves propel terrorist activity.
See Spencer S Has & Job Warwick, 2009, ‘Beam’s battle against terrorists to go beyond bombs and bullets’, Washington Post, 6 August. Middle or high-income countries (Abide, 2006; Dither Savageness, 2008; Krueger & Latin, 2008; Piazza, 2006). The same has been found to be the case for regions within countries (Krueger, 2007; Piazza, 2009). Studies examining individuals likewise do not reveal a causal link between poverty, inequality, and terrorism.
Empirical research has not found that terrorist perpetrators are more likely than the average person to come from a lower socioeconomic background or to be uneducated, unemployed, and economically distressed, and survey research has also not determined that economically deprived people are more likely to support terrorism (Bribe, 2007; Fair ‘–;again, 2006; Krueger & Molecular, 2003; Seaman, 2004).
Still, a handful of other studies prevent scholars from confidently closing the book on the relationship between measures Of economic deprivation and terrorism. Rather than finding a consistent null result, this body of work Corresponding author: [email protected] Dude reveals a more complicated picture. On the one hand, IL & Schwab (2004) determine that economically developed COED countries are less likely to experience international terrorist attacks than developing countries, while Bravo & Aids (2006) find the same for terrorism In
Eurasia. Burgeon (2006) demonstrates that social welfare spending reduces international terrorist attacks in some countries. Alai (2007) finds that countries with higher levels of economic inequality experience higher levels of terrorism than more egalitarian societies. Buenos De Mesquite (2005) argues that the selection regimes used by terrorist movements, which favor higher socio-economic status recruits, obscure the fact that larger pools of potential recruits are produced by poverty.
However, Bloomberg & Hess (AAA) determine that economically developed countries are more likely than evolving countries to experience terrorist attacks. 2 Ross (1993) theoretically substantiates this empirical finding, noting that economically developed societies afford terrorists more targets, a greater availability of deadly weapons, and a mass transit and communication system to maximize the effectiveness of their attacks. Yet other studies manage to find indicators of poverty to be simultaneously negative and positive predictors of terrorism.
Using dyadic analyses of source and target countries, IL (2009), Deride-Grew (2009), Bloomberg & Hess (Bibb), and Bloomberg & Responders (2006) mind that increased income levels in countries reduce the probability that their nationals will launch terrorist attacks abroad, but that countries with higher incomes, and higher levels of political democracy and economic openness, are more likely to be targeted by international terrorists.
Taken together, these studies indicate a more complex relationship wherein economic underdevelopment incubates terrorist movements and motivates them to launch international attacks against developed countries because they feature developed, free media that are likely to cover attacks (Hoffman & McCormick, 2004), hey are endowed with more numerous and lucrative targets (Candler, 2005), and they are symbols of a nonagenarian status quo and a focus for political resentments (Cesareans, 2007).
The end result is that there is little scholarly consensus on the role that socio-economic factors play in determining patterns of terrorism. This is a glaring deficit on more than one front. First, it has contributed to a discovery lag 2 Though when they examine only developing countries, Bloomberg & Hess (AAA) do find some evidence that indicators of economic development programs are negatively associated with terrorism. Urinal of PEACE RESEARCH 48(3) vise-a -vise other social science literatures on violence, such as the work on civil War (Collier, Hoofer & Ironer, 2009; Fearer, 2008; Pearson & Latin, 2003; sambas, 2004) and the fields of criminology and sociology (Effaceable, Alderman & Locally, 2002; Whish & Pugh, 1993). Second, looking beyond to policy-oriented research, the failure of terrorism scholars to definitively determine how, or whether, poverty and socio-economic inequality in countries precipitates terrorism handicaps evaluation of a key element of post-September 1 lath United
States counter-terrorism that was inaugurated during the Bush Administration: increased US bilateral development aid as a panacea for terrorism (Blessing, 2002; Piazza, 2006). Coupled with similar ambiguities regarding other predictors of terrorism, this has left terrorism studies unable to articulate a clear counter-terrorism policy recommendation. Minority discrimination and terrorism This study suggests that a heretofore overlooked factor may further elucidate the relationship between socioeconomic features of countries and the occurrence of terrorist attacks: economic discrimination against minority groups.
Though the experience of minority group discrimination has been identified as a factor that motivates and fuels terrorist campaigns in a host Of qualitative studies Of individual countries or individual terrorist movements (see, for example, Bradley, 2006; Bounded, 2005; Argil, 2000; Liqueur, 1999; Aren’t, 1987; van De Overdo, 2005; Whittaker, 2001 it has largely been ignored in the growing cross-national, time-series quantitative literature investigating the root causes of terrorism.
Aside from control findings in studies focused on democratic rule (Bank & Weinberg, 1994), political debility (Lair 2007), and national demographic composition as predictors of terrorism (Wade & Ritter, 2007), a jurisdictional empirical investigation of minority economic status as a cause of terrorism has not been systematically undertaken.
This is striking, given the proliferation of cross-national empirical research on the causes of terrorism since 2001 (Young & Finley, 2011) and the prominence afforded to the individual experience of ethnic, racial or class discrimination as a predictor of aggressive behavior and future violent crime within the sociology, social psychology, and criminology literatures Dubious et al. , 2002; McCoy & Engineer, 2002; Simons et al. , 2006).
There is some theoretical justification to suspect that a causal link exists between minority economic discrimination and domestic terrorist activity within countries and Piazza an argument to be made that it should have a strong, substantive effect in comparison to general levels of poverty. To establish this link, borrow from Guru’s (1993) theory’ of relative deprivation, which integrates group motivations for political violence with the collective opportunities to do so.
In Gurus model, collective or social status disadvantages -? when accompanied by repression on the part of the state – help to produce cohesive minority group identities within countries that differentiate group members from larger society. These collective disadvantages, the sense of ‘otherness’ vise-a -vise the majority, and alienation from the state and mainstream society facilitate the creation of long-term grievances within afflicted subgroups. When these grievances are wedded to opportunities to mobile, which, Guru assumes, are conditioned by the size and demographic concentration of the group, political violence results.
Though Guru’s model seeks to explain episodes of widespread mass political violence such as ethnic rebellions, riots, and civil wars rather than terrorist attacks, which are smaller in scale, more sporadic, and executed by small groups rather than mass movements, I argue that his two intervening factors in the relationship between relative deprivation and political violence – group grievance and organizational opportunity – are likewise key to understanding the causal link between minority economic discrimination and terrorism.
I am partially assisted in this by Cesareans (1981) and Ross (1993), both of whom argue that group refinances of marginalia substantial communities is the crucial root cause of terrorism. Add to this an argument that terrorist movements, as small organized actors led by elites that draw recruits from aggrieved substantial communities, are instruments of manipulation that allow group grievances to be channeled into violent activity.
Minority economic discrimination – which usually involves Some combination of employment discrimination, unequal access to government health, educational or social services, formal or informal housing segregation, and lack of economic opportunities available to the rest f society – is a catalyst for the development of minority group grievances, which are directed against the state, economic status quo, mainstream society, and the majority population.
Discrimination also reinforces social exclusion and the previously described sense of otherness among afflicted minority group members. This leaves aggrieved minority populations alienated from the mainstream economic system, distrustful of state institutions and authority and, thereby, more susceptible to ratification and fertile ground for terrorist movements to recruit cadres, raise money, and plan and execute attacks. 1 Qualitative case studies of Northern Ireland (Earn, 1987) and Latin America (Clearly, 2000) and survey research in Western Europe (Clauses, 2005) identify minority group experience of discrimination as a root source of minority community ratification that is exploited by extremist movements and terrorist organizations. Terrorist groups are crucial to the process here because, much like social movements or political organizations, they function as vehicles to organize and to channel minority group grievance into violent action.
In this way, they are agents of manipulation, overcoming elective action barriers that impair the larger aggrieved minority community from acting upon their disaffection (Candler, 2003). Discrimination also has an effect on the target side’ of the relationship. States with aggrieved minority populations can find their counter-terrorism efforts hampered. Aggrieved communities are less likely to be cooperative with state counter-terrorism officials, affording advantages to terrorist groups in their midst (Walsh & Piazza, 2010). The relationship between discrimination and terrorism can also work the other way.
Societies with minority groups hat do not face active economic discrimination, or where the legacy of minority discrimination is addressed through remediation policies that level differences between minority and majority populations, demonstrate that they can successfully integrate minorities into mainstream life. Minority communities in non-discriminatory societies are less likely to be radicalized or to be alienated from mainstream society, thereby making the terrorist group agenda less popular and stymieing terrorist group recruitment. In his qualitative study of counter-terrorism responses in Northern Ireland, the
Spanish Basque region, Italy against the Red Brigades, Uruguay against the Taprooms, and Cyprus against JOKE, Hewitt (1984) credits the poor economic status of specific groups within the population, instead of the overall economic climate, as a crucial element in fueling terrorist group recruitment and activities. In assessing the efficacy of counter-terrorism tools, Hewitt credits proactive economic affirmative action for marginalia groups, for example education and housing subsidies of Catholics in Northern Ireland, with reducing the threat of terrorism.
Minority immunities that are not aggrieved are also more likely to cooperate with state counter-terrorism officials. The qualitative counter-insurgency literature, recognizes this, noting that fostering a sense of mainstream system legitimacy in the face of insurgent efforts to paint the status quo as illegitimate is crucial to securing community cooperation with security efforts (Hashish, 2006; does, 2004). 42 Measurement issues round out the expectation that discrimination in particular is a key predictor of domestic terrorism in countries and can help to explain the link between poverty and terrorism. A handful of scholars actually note, in asides, the problems posed by using indicators that measure nationwide socio-economic or political statuses alone to predict the behavior of terrorist movement are small, narrow substantial entities that typically operate within particular and limited geographic regions and social spaces of a country.
IL extrapolates from the findings in Fearer & Laity’s (2003) study on the predictors of civil wars to depict terrorist groups as ‘extremely marginal political actors’ whose grieve too narrow to be affected by mainstream political or social processes enigmatic regime type or level of economic development (L I, 2005: Looking outside of terrorism studies, Sambaing (2004) determines that while they are robust predictors of which countries experience internal armed conflicts, aggregate country-level economic indicators are of little use in explaining which subgroups of citizens are likely to engage in political violence, making it very difficult to assess the different opportunity costs for joining armed rebellions among different strata of country residents.