Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers

30 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2007 Last revised: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Efraim Benmelech

Efraim Benmelech

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

Claude Berrebi

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - School of Public Policy; Hebrew University - School of Public Policy ; Princeton University; UCLA; RAND Corporation; Taub Center

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
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Claude Berrebi

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - School of Public Policy ( email )

Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+97225880151 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://en.public-policy.huji.ac.il/people/claude-berrebi

Hebrew University - School of Public Policy ( email )

Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+97225880151 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://en.public-policy.huji.ac.il/people/claude-berrebi

Princeton University ( email )

Woodrow Wilson School
Public and International Affairs
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United States
609-591-5886 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://wws.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/person/cvfiles/CV-20190101-HU-Princeton.pdf

UCLA ( email )

Box 951477
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United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/people/Faculty/Berrebi.html

RAND Corporation ( email )

Santa Monica, CA
310-393-0411 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.rand.org/pubs/authors/b/berrebi_claude.html

Taub Center ( email )

15 Ha'ari Street
Jerusalem
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://dev.taubcenter.org.il/claude-berrebi/

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