Poverty Does Not Cause Terrorism
Yet more studies have come out showing, what I have said before, that Poverty does not cause to terrorism. Fortune's Cait Murphy has a great roundup.
Aren't the people who commit terrorist acts poor, even if they are from countries that are not? No. Remember, most of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were middle-class sons of Saudi Arabia and many were well-educated. And Osama bin Laden himself is from one of the richest families in the Middle East.So in effect, the poorer people are, the less likely they are to become terrorists. The more educated and affluent they are, the more likely they are to become terrorists.
But it goes deeper than that. In a 2003 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova reported the results of a post-9/11 survey of Palestinians. Asked whether there were "any circumstances under which you would justify the use of terrorism to achieve political goals," the higher-status respondents (merchant, farmer or professional) were more likely to agree (43.3 percent) than those lower down the ladder (laborer, craftsman or employee) (34.6 percent). The higher-status respondents were also more likely to support armed attacks against Israeli targets (86.7 percent to 80.8 percent). The same dynamic existed when education was taken into account.
In another study, 129 Hezbollah militants who died in action (not all of them in activities that could be considered terrorism) were compared to the general Lebanese population. The Hezbollah members were slightly less likely to be poor, and significantly more likely to have finished high school.
Outside Palestine, there is general agreement that suicide attacks on civilians is a form of terrorism. So where do suicide bombers fit in? A study looked at the biographies of 285 suicide bombers as published in local journals, from 1987-2002. And this found that those who carried out suicide attacks were, on the whole, richer (fewer than 15 percent under the poverty line, compared to almost 35 percent for the population as a whole) and more educated (95 percent with high school or higher) than the rest of the population (almost half of whom went no further than middle school). A similar survey of terrorists in the Jewish Underground, which killed 29 Palestinians in the early 1970s, found the same pattern.
A comprehensive study of 1,776 terrorist incidents (240 international, the rest domestic) by Harvard professor Albert Abadie, who was sympathetic to the poverty-terrorism idea at first, found no such thing. "When you look at the data," he told the Harvard Gazette, "it's not there."
What other contributing factors were there? Wishy washy governments...
The freest countries experienced little terrorism; and the same was true for the most oppressed. It was in the middle - where politics was unsettled and evolving and governments are often weak - that suffered the most.and geography...
He also found that geography contributed to terrorist destiny. Places like Afghanistan, with its austere mountains, or Colombia, with its remote jungles, might have been designed to sustain terrorism.
The writer concludes by echoing what I have said in several of my talks
There are many good reasons to worry about poverty, and to take action to alleviate it. But ending terrorism is not one of them.