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What Makes a Terrorist : Economics and the Roots of Terrorism

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Why we need to think more like economists to successfully combat terrorism

If we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do. Alan Krueger’s What Makes a Terrorist, explains why our tactics in the fight against terrorism must be based on more than anecdote, intuition, and speculation.

Many popular ideas about terrorists are fueled by falsehoods, misinformation, and fearmongering. Many believe that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite a wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class and often college-educated backgrounds. Krueger closely examines the factors that motivate individuals to participate in terrorism, drawing inferences from terrorists’ own backgrounds and the economic, social, religious, and political environments 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 and puts the threat squarely into perspective, revealing how our nation’s sizable economy is diverse and resilient enough to withstand the comparatively limited effects of most terrorist strikes. He also calls on the media to be more responsible in reporting on terrorism.

Bringing needed clarity to one of the greatest challenges of our generation, this 10th anniversary edition of What Makes a Terrorist features a new introduction by the author that discusses the lessons learned in the past decade from the rise of ISIS and events like the 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida.

Author: Krueger Alan
Publisher: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Pages: 232
ISBN: 9780691177823
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018

Prologue To The Tenth Anniversary Edition ix

Preface To The First Edition xxxi

Introduction 1

1 Who Becomes a Terrorist? Characteristics of Individual Participants in Terrorism 11

2 Where Does Terror Emerge? Economic and Political Conditions and Terrorism 53

3 What Does Terrorism Accomplish? Economic, Psychological, and Political Consequences of Terrorism 105

Questions and Answers Following the Lectures 143

Afterword 163

References 177

Index 187

Alan Bennett Krueger (September 17, 1960 – March 16, 2019) was an American economist who was the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, nominated by President Barack Obama, from May 2009 to October 2010, when he returned to Princeton. He was nominated in 2011 by Obama as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and served in that office from November 2011 to August 2013. He was among the 50 highest ranked economists in the world according to Research Papers in Economics.

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