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Article

Economic Growth, Education, and Terrorism: A Re- Analysis

Korotayev A., Vaskin I., Tsirel S. V.

The performed cross-national tests with negative binomial regression models support the presence of a curvilinear relationship between the quantitative expansion of education (measured with mean years of schooling) and terrorist attack intensity. Growth of schooling in the least educationally developed countries is associated with a significant ten- dency towards the growth of terrorist attack intensity. This tendency remains significant when controlled for income level, type of political regime, unemployment, inequality, and urbanization; wherein the peak of the terrorist attack intensity is observed for a relatively low, but not zero level of the quantitative expansion of formal education (approximately three to six years of schooling). Further growth of schooling in more developed countries is associated with a significant trend toward the decrease of terrorist attack intensity. This tendency remains significant after being controlled for income level, political regime, unemployment, inequality, and urbanization. The most radical decrease is observed for the interval between seven and eight mean years of schooling. In addi- tion, this quantitative analysis indicates the presence of a similar curvi- linear relationship between GDP per capita and terrorist attack intensity with a wide peak from $4000 to $14,000. The explanation of a curvilinear relationship between GDP per capita and terrorist activity through mean years of schooling intermediary can only be partial. The regression ana- lysis suggests that the growth of mean years of schooling with economic development of middle and high income countries may really be one of the factors accounting for the decrease of terrorist attacks in countries with GDP per capita growth. However, this regression analysis indicates that a partial role in the explanation of negative correlation between GDP per capita and terrorist attack intensity for middle and high income countries is also played by a lower level of unemployment rate in the high income countries, as well as by a very high share of consolidated democracies and an extremely low share of factional democracies among the high income states. It is especially worth noting that after the intro- duction of all controls, the coefficient sign for per capita GDP changes from negative to positive, i.e., GDP growth in middle and high income countries after the introduction of controls for inequality, education, unemployment, type of regime, etc. turns out to be a factor of increase rather than decline of the intensity of terrorist activity. On the one hand, this suggests that the negative correlation between per capita GDP and the level of terrorist activity in these countries is actually explained to an extremely high degree by the fact that per capita GDP growth here tends to be accompanied by an increase in the educational level of the popula- tion, a decrease in unemployment, a reduction in inequality, a decrease in the number of factional democracies, and an increase in the number of consolidated democracies. On the other hand, the positive sign (with a statistically significant correlation) indicates here that if in the middle and high countries economic growth is not accompanied by an increase in economic equality and education of the population, a decrease in unemployment, a decrease in the number of unstable factional democ- racies, and an increase in the number of consolidated democracies (that is, if in fact all the fruits of economic growth are captured by the elites, and almost nothing gets from this growth to the commoner population), then such economic growth would tend to lead to an increase in terrorist activity (and not to its reduction).