Dissatisfaction and Public Support for Terrorism



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Education is thought to be an important factor in reducing the legitimacy of violence against civilians among a population. Some have argued that this effect is not universal but conditional on other social and demographic factors. This paper examines one such claim, which states that rising education generates "political dissatisfaction" that can lead to increased support for suicide bombing targeting civilians. We reexamine the evidence presented in support of this theory and find that the original analysis does not in fact show a statistically significant interactive effect of dissatisfaction on education. We then decompose the authors' index of dissatisfaction and show that it is the perception of a threat to cultural and religious identity that drives increased support in their findings. Finally, we test different measures of dissatisfaction against a new dataset and find that dissatisfaction over income and government performance have no generalizable effects, while concern with religious or ethnic conflict increases support. We conclude with a brief discussion of the challenges facing the study of education in a cross-country analysis and the importance of spatial correlations that are left unmodeled due to the lack of geocoded survey data.



Terrorism, Suicide Bombing, Education, Tolerance, Terror Management Theory, Discontent, Identity Threat