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Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Terrorism: Do Natural Disasters Incite Terror?

36 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011  

Claude Berrebi

RAND Corporation; Hebrew University - The Federmann School of Public Policy and Government; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics; Princeton University - Department of Economics; RAND Corporation - Labor and Population Studies

Jordan Ostwald

RAND Corporation

Date Written: September 21, 2011

Abstract

A novel and important issue in contemporary security policy is the impact of natural disasters on terrorism. Natural disasters can strain a society and its government, creating vulnerabilities which terrorist groups might exploit. Using a structured methodology and detailed data on terrorism, disasters, and other relevant controls for 167 countries between 1970 and 2007, the authors find a strong positive impact of disaster-related deaths on subsequent terrorism deaths and incidence. They find that, on average, an increase in deaths from natural disasters of 25,000 leads to an increase in the following year of approximately 33 percent in the number of deaths from terrorism, an increase of approximately 22 percent in the number of terrorist attacks, and an increase of approximately 16 percent in the number wounded in terrorist attacks, holding all other factors constant. Furthermore, the effects differ by disaster types and country characteristics. Results were consistently significant and robust across a multitude of disaster and terrorism measures for a diverse set of model specifications. The results have strong implications for both disaster and terrorism mitigation policy.

Suggested Citation

Berrebi, Claude and Ostwald, Jordan, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Terrorism: Do Natural Disasters Incite Terror? (September 21, 2011). RAND Working Paper Series WR- 876. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1931864 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1931864

Claude Berrebi (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

Santa Monica, CA
310-393-0411 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rand.org/about/people/b/berrebi_claude.html

Hebrew University - The Federmann School of Public Policy and Government

Hebrew University
Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/people/Faculty/Berrebi.html

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

Industrial Relations Section
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-4777 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

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

RAND Corporation - Labor and Population Studies ( email )

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
United States
310-393-0411 (Phone)

Jordan Ostwald

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

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