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On the Ethnic Origins of Terrorism
Defense and Peace Economics (2010)
  • Atin Basu Choudhary, Virginia Military Institute
  • William F. Shughart II, University of Mississippi

Using the ITERATE dataset, we explore the origins of transnational terrorist activity in 118 countries from 1982 through 1997. We depart from the existing literature by modeling terrorism not as a function of a nation’s ethnic, religious or linguistic fractionalization but of an independent measure of ethnic tensions. We find that terrorism is more likely to emerge in countries where ethnic friction is perceived to be high. Mere political rights and civil liberties cannot overcome the terrorism-producing effects of ethnic conflict. In fact, economic freedom may contribute more than political freedom to reducing the number of terrorist attacks arising in ethnically tense countries. Thus, our paper suggests that the roots of terrorism are fundamentally economic rather than political or ethnic.

  • Conflict,
  • Ethnic,
  • Terrorism,
  • Origins,
  • Cross country,
  • Public Policy
Publication Date
February, 2010
Citation Information
Atin Basu Choudhary and William F. Shughart II. "On the Ethnic Origins of Terrorism" Defense and Peace Economics Vol. 21 Iss. 1 (2010)
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