Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias

40 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2003 Last revised: 4 Feb 2004

See all articles by Eli Berman

Eli Berman

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2003

Abstract

Can rational choice modeling explain destructive behavior among the Taliban, Hama and other radical religious militias? This paper proposes a club good framework which emphasizes the function of voluntary religious organizations as efficient providers of local public goods in the absence of government provision. The sacrifices which these groups demand are economically efficient (as in Iannaccone (1992)) and make them well suited for solving the extreme principal-agent problems present in militia production. Thus the analysis can explain why religious radicals create such effective militias. Seemingly gratuitous acts of violence by group members destroy their outside options, increasing the incentive compatibility of loyalty. The analysis has clear implications for economic policy to contain militias.

Suggested Citation

Berman, Eli, Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias (September 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w10004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=450885

Eli Berman (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

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