Terrorism and the Varieties of Civil Liberties
34 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 27, 2019
How do government protections of, and infringement upon, its citizens’ civil liberties influence the country’s exposure to terrorism? Existing research remains divided on whether civil liberties protections increase or decrease vulnerability to terrorism, and the conditions under which violating civil liberties mitigate or exacerbate the security threats associated with terrorism. We contribute clarity to these debates by disaggregating civil liberties into component dimensions — political liberties, private liberties, and physical integrity — which we argue have distinct effects on a country’s exposure to terrorism. We argue political liberties increase terrorism while physical integrity rights decrease terrorism. These countervailing effects provide an alternative explanation for the observed “inverted-U” relationship between civil liberties protections and terrorism. We isolate the effects of specific government behaviors from each other and from the effects of the state’s political institutions by leveraging the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) data. We measure a country’s exposure to terrorism using the Global Terrorism Database. Our sample covers 176 states from 1970-2016. We find evidence consistent with our hypotheses regarding the effects of the distinct component dimensions of civil liberties.
Keywords: Terrorism, Political Violence, Democracy, Civil Liberties
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