The Dispossessed: A Labor-Market Analysis of Extreme Political Violence

52 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010

See all articles by Eva M. Meyersson Milgrom

Eva M. Meyersson Milgrom

Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR); Stanford University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: January 14, 2010

Abstract

Highly-educated individuals are over-represented among violent operatives of insurgent organizations in the Middle East. This suggests four inter-related questions: (1) Why do those who seem to have good prospects willingly endanger their own lives? (2) What incentives drive these highly educated individuals to terrorist organizations in particular? (3) Why do sub-state welfare organizations turn violent? (4) Why do these organizations send so many highly educated, thoroughly dedicated members to their deaths instead of employing them in some other way? We answer these questions using a multidisciplinary approach, organized in a supply-demand framework, to study the market for violent operatives. We show how the conditions of a failing state give extra salience to personal significance for highly educated but dispossessed individuals and raise their value as violent operatives, creating gains from trade between them and the leaders of extremist organizations.

Suggested Citation

Meyersson Milgrom, Eva, The Dispossessed: A Labor-Market Analysis of Extreme Political Violence (January 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1552084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1552084

Eva Meyersson Milgrom (Contact Author)

Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) ( email )

579 Serra Mall at Galvez St.
Stanford, CA 94305-6015
United States

Stanford University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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