Poverty and Support for Militant Politics: Evidence from Pakistan

64 Pages Posted: 3 May 2011 Last revised: 26 Jan 2012

Graeme Blair

Princeton University

C. Christine Fair

Georgetown University

Neil A. Malhotra

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Jacob N. Shapiro

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 2, 2011

Abstract

Combating militant violence - particularly within South Asia and the Middle East - stands at the top of the international security agenda. Much of the policy literature focuses on poverty as a root cause of support for violent political groups and on economic development as a key to addressing the challenges of militancy and terrorism. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support this contention, particularly in the case of Islamist militant organizations. To address this gap we conducted a 6000-person, nationally representative survey of Pakistanis that measures affect towards four important militant organizations. We apply a novel measurement strategy to mitigate item nonresponse, which plagued previous surveys due to the sensitive nature of militancy. Our study reveals three key patterns. First, Pakistanis exhibit negative affect toward all four militant organizations, with those from areas where groups have conducted the most attacks disliking them the most. Second, contrary to conventional expectations poor Pakistanis dislike militant groups more than middle-class citizens. Third, this dislike is strongest among poor urban residents, suggesting that the negative relationship stems from exposure to the externalities of terrorist attacks. Longstanding arguments tying support for violent political organizations to individuals’ economic prospects - and the subsequent policy recommendations - may require substantial revision.

Suggested Citation

Blair, Graeme and Fair, C. Christine and Malhotra, Neil A. and Shapiro, Jacob N., Poverty and Support for Militant Politics: Evidence from Pakistan (May 2, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1829264 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1829264

Graeme Blair

Princeton University ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~gblair

C. Christine Fair (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Neil A. Malhotra

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Jacob N. Shapiro

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
477
Rank
46,961
Abstract Views
3,368