Selection, Availability, and Opportunity: The Conditional Effect of Poverty on Terrorist Group Participation
Department of Political Science and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Poverty is often identified as a determinant of terrorist group participation, but existing research reveals mixed support for this relationship. Some studies find that macroeconomic decline is associated with increased production of terrorists, but micro-level research suggests terrorists have above average socioeconomic status and educational attainment. In this article, the author argues that poverty should increase terrorist group participation only for individuals with high education. The author suggests that as a result of terrorist group selection preferences and the lower opportunity costs for militant group membership in economically depressed environments, the likelihood of terrorist group participation should be highest for the highly educated, poor members of any population. The author tests the hypotheses using data from Krueger and Maleckova (2003) on participation in Hezbollah, adding an interaction term to their model. The results support the hypotheses. Poverty increases the likelihood of participation in Hezbollah only for those with at least high school education.