Freedom and the Taste for Terrorism
Imperial College London Working Paper No. TBS DP04-26
39 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2005
Date Written: March 2005
Property rights, whose security is often threatened by terrorism and civil conflict, are a necessary condition for the establishment of a market economy. Yet a fundamental and unresolved empirical question is whether the lack of political and civil freedoms is one of the root causes of greater insecurity. This paper takes a new approach to provide an answer by using micro-data on 106,170 people in 61 nations from 1981 to 1997. Controlling for country effects, year effects and endogeneity, the level of freedom has strong and robust negative effects on revolutionary support. A one standard deviation rise in freedom, equivalent to a shift from Argentina to the US, decreases support by 3 percentage points, or 38% of the standard deviation of the proportion of people who want a revolution. Higher GDP growth rates can buy off part of the increase in support when freedoms are constrained. There is also evidence that being religious reduces revolutionary tastes although the size of the effect varies with the extent of freedom and disappears entirely in non-free nations.
Keywords: Revolt, property rights, freedom, growth, religion
JEL Classification: D74, H11, O1, O4, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation