Many popular ideas about terrorists and why they seek to harm us are fueled by falsehoods and misinformation. Leading politicians and scholars have argued that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class, and often college-educated, backgrounds. In What Makes a Terrorist, Alan Krueger argues that if we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do.
Krueger is an influential economist who has applied rigorous statistical analysis to a range of tough issues, from the minimum wage and education to the occurrence of hate crimes. In this book, he explains why our tactics in the fight against terrorism must be based on more than anecdote and speculation. Krueger closely examines the factors that motivate individuals to participate in terrorism, drawing inferences from terrorists' own backgrounds and the economic, social, and political conditions in the societies from which they come. He describes which countries are the most likely breeding grounds for terrorists, and which ones are most likely to be their targets. Krueger addresses the economic and psychological consequences of terrorism. He puts the terrorist threat squarely into perspective, revealing how our nation's sizeable economy is diverse and resilient enough to withstand the comparatively limited effects of most terrorist strikes. And he calls on the media to be more responsible in reporting on terrorism.
What Makes a Terrorist brings needed clarity to one of the greatest challenges of our time.
"Alan Krueger . . . has done path-breaking research on why so many terrorists come from middle-class backgrounds."--David Leonhardt, New York Times
"Full of first-rate empirical work."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
"Economist Alan Krueger explores this phenomenon with a systematic study of the evidence. . . . All in all, the research that Krueger gathers together suggests that if there is a link between poverty, education and terrorism, it is the opposite of the one popularly assumed."--Tim Harford, Financial Times
"An invaluable little book. . . . [U]ses standard tools of economics and statistical analysis to get at the truth about terrorism."--Daniel Finkelstein, Times (London)
"In a compelling analysis, Krueger points out how a lack of legitimate political expression and civil liberties turns some individuals to terrorism. He also provides a pointed and witty account of the problems the U.S. administration has faced in its own attempts at empiricism. . . . This book is a model of how academics can contribute to major public policy debates."--Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs
"What are the individual and societal causes of terrorism? The book's great strength is its focus on new sources of data examined in new ways. The most compelling analysis in the book is of biographical information on operatives from Hezbollah and Hamas. This is a substantial contribution, offering insight into who becomes a terrorist and, as important, pushing terrorism studies in a productive new direction, toward microlevel data. The book provides a valuable service in dispelling the stereotype of the poor, ignorant terrorist."--Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Science
Table of Contents:
CHAPTER 1: Who Becomes a Terrorist? Characteristics of Individual Participants in Terrorism 11
CHAPTER 2: Where Does Terror Emerge? Economic and Political Conditions and Terrorism 53
CHAPTER 3: What Does Terrorism Accomplish? Economic, Psychological, and Political Consequences of Terrorism 105
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOLLOWING THE LECTURES 143
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Alan B. Krueger: