Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers

30 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2007  

Efraim Benmelech

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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

Date Written: February 2007

Abstract

This paper studies the relation between human capital of suicide bombers and outcomes of their suicide attacks. We argue that human capital is an important factor in the production of terrorism, and that if terrorists behave rationally we should observe that more able suicide bombers are assigned to more important targets. We use a unique data set detailing the biographies of Palestinian suicide bombers, the targets they attack, and the number of people that they kill and injure to validate the theoretical predictions and estimate the returns to human capital in suicide bombing. Our empirical analysis suggests that older and more educated suicide bombers are being assigned by their terror organization to more important targets. We find that more educated and older suicide bombers are less likely to fail in their mission, and are more likely to cause increased casualties when they attack.

Suggested Citation

Benmelech, Efraim and Berrebi, Claude, Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers (February 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w12910. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=963743

Efraim Benmelech (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

Evanston, IL 60208
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Claude Berrebi

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)

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