Suicide terrorism remains a difficult action to rationally explain. Often, scholars rely on ideological or religious motivations to explain these seemingly irrational actions. While it seems clear that non-economic motives matter, it is also the case that economic compensation can incentivize suicide terrorism in ways that allow for more robust suicide terrorism campaigns. As such, we would expect that organizations that provide cash to suicide bombers will generate more attacks. In addition, the general economic environment plays into this in that poor economic conditions should increase the attractiveness of monetary compensation. To test our arguments, we conduct a series of statistical analyses looking at seven terrorist organizations that engaged in suicide terrorism from 2000 through 2008 and find that both high levels of economic compensation and poor economic conditions are correlated with a greater number of suicide terrorist attacks.
Key words: Political economy, terrorism, compensation.
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