Evidence About the Link between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians
Princeton University Industrial Relations Section Working Paper No. 477
65 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2005
Date Written: September 2003
The primary goal of this paper is to investigate whether participation in terrorist activity can be linked to ignorance (measured through schooling) or to economic desperation (measured through poverty on the individual's level and various economic indicators on the societal level) using newly culled data of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist cells. This paper performs a statistical analysis of the determinants of participation in Hamas and PIJ terrorist activities in Israel from the late 1980's to the present, as well as a time series analysis of terrorist attacks in Israel with relation to economic conditions. The resulting evidence on the individual level suggests that both higher standards of living and higher levels of education are positively associated with participation in Hamas or PIJ. With regard to the societal economic condition, no sustainable link between terrorism and poverty and education could be found, which I interpret to mean that there is either no link or a very weak indirect link. Special attention is given to the suicide-bomber phenomenon, and the analysis of the determinants of becoming a suicide-bomber provides additional intriguing findings. In contrast with the "classic" characteristics of a suicidal individual (Hamermesh and Soss, 1974), suicide-bombers tend to be of higher economic status and higher educational attainment than their counterparts in the population.
Keywords: Terrorism, Poverty, Education, Hamas, Suicide-Bomber
JEL Classification: J2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation